Government asks MILF to honor truce

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

THE Aquino administration on Sunday urged members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to follow the rule of law and strictly adhere to the ceasefire agreement now that the peace process is in the final stretch.

Government senior military adviser Major General Leo Cresente Ferrer made the call following the abduction of 12 persons in Balo-i, Lanao del Norte and the attack on a police station in Marawi City recently.

“We ask the MILF leadership to rein in their forces in the spirit of the positive strides of the peace process both sides [GPH and MILF] have steadfastly worked on for so many years. A fruitful conclusion would benefit not just the Bangsamoro people but the rest of the people in Mindanao,” he said.

Ferrer appealed as information came out that MILF members were allegedly involved in abducting 12 persons in Balo-i last December 5.

Eight of the civilians were released Friday night, a military report from the ground said.

MILF members under Abdul Macalunto of the 102nd Base Command seized the 12 civilians in Balo-i town as part of the group’s alleged anti-drug and anti-gambling campaigns in the area, the report said.

The report came out as the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and MILF peace panels are in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the 42nd exploratory talks.

Ferrer stressed that prospects are now brighter than ever for the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

“With the peace talks in the end stage, let us not allow any untoward incidents, isolated they may be, to obstruct the momentum gained so far by the peace process,” he said.

He essentially echoed the sentiments of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles, who on Friday issued a statement after MILF members abducted and later freed the police chief of Marawi City, Supt. Christopher Panapan.

Deles had credited the peace process mechanisms—the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, the AdHoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), and the International Monitoring Team (IMT) -- for the crucial role they played in securing the safe release of Panapan, and preventing possible escalation of hostilities that might have compromised the existing ceasefire between the Government and the MILF.

“At this point in time when we are in the last stage of the negotiations towards the completion of a comprehensive agreement, the MILF must be able to prove that they have control over their forces, so that together we can protect our communities and achieve the much deserved peace and development in the region,” Deles said after the Marawi incident was resolved peacefully.

As of Saturday, the GPH and MILF peace panels remained locked on the negotiations on the two remaining annexes - power sharing and normalization - of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), which envisions the creation of a Bangsamoro government that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in 2016.

The two sides earlier this year signed the annexes on transitional arrangement and modalities, and revenue generation and wealth sharing. (SDR/Sunnex)

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