MAMASAPANO, Maguindanao-"When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers."
Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Etta Rosales made the statement at the site of the bloody clash between the Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters that left 44 policemen and 18 MILF combatants dead.
The fighting also left several civilians dead.
"Whenever there are armed confrontations, it's the civilians who are affected," Rosales said.
Some 1,500 families were displaced by the clash.
"It's tragic because these are farmlands … where [civilians] are getting their livelihood," Rosales told reporters after she was briefed by Mayor Benzar Ampatuan on the cornfields where the bodies of the SAF commandos were recovered.
"If we cannot reach those unfortunate people and fight for their rights in their homes, jobs, schools and even in their small community that is out of the map, our efforts toward promoting human rights are useless," Rosales said.
Not attending classes
Because of the bloody fire-fight, parents have ceased sending their children to school for fear of their safety, the CHR chair said.
"I hope we will all make a promise. It's enough. We hope the firing of guns will totally stop here. We need to show to the public that we can stop the fighting," she added.