Humanitarian worker killed, 4 others wounded in Maguindanao ambush

Awang in Datu Odin Sinsuat town

Manila, Philippines – A humanitarian worker was killed and four others were wounded in an ambush in the troubled province of Maguindanao in the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

The lone fatality, Betsy Yap, was a member of the Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team of the regional government. She was with her mother, Beatrice, who was also shot, along with three others inside their car in the village called Awang in Datu Odin Sinsuat town.

The victims just came from the Yap’s house and were traveling to Cotabato City when gunmen attacked them and escaped after the ambush.

The motive of the ambush and the identities of the attackers are still unknown. It was unclear how the gunmen staged the daring attack considering the whole of Mindanao is under an extended martial law.

There was no immediate statement from the police and military, and the provincial government officials. But Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman strongly condemned the Yap’s killing.

“We condemn this act of senseless violence, and we call on local government and law enforcement units to exert all efforts in ensuring that the killer will be brought to justice,” he said.

“Our humanitarian workers are at the front lines in providing basic social services, and form the core of our emergency response in times of conflict and calamity. It is their commitment to ensuring the rights and welfare of the Bangsamoro people that enables the regional government to deliver services needed in the peripheries,” he added.

Hataman said all attacks against ARMM humanitarian workers were attacks against the people. “We cannot stand idly by as our humanitarian workers are threatened by violence, and as our elected officials are threatened because of those who want to wrestle power away from those who hold the people’s mandate – most especially when these are direct threats against our hard won democracy,” he said.

Maguindanao, a known stronghold of rebels and militant groups tied to IS, has virtually become the center of violence and lawlessness in the restive region where killings and terrorism are not uncommon.

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