MILF urged not to tolerate criminal acts of members

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Sunday, April 20, 2014


THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Muslim rebel group in the Philippines, should not tolerate its members allegedly engaged in criminal activities, such as hostage-taking, an official said Sunday.

Government peace panel head Miriam Coronel-Ferrer made the statement following the death of some MILF members during the April 11 operations by government troops against terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Basilan.

“As an organization that signed the peace agreement, the MILF must not tolerate the criminal acts of any of their individual members” said Coronel-Ferrer. “They must do their part in arresting the impunity long enjoyed by these unscrupulous individuals.”

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Asked what the MILF can do, the government negotiator said that the MILF leadership should ask their supporters who are intricately involved with the ASG to choose between war and peace.

“They should expel from their ranks those who reject peace and are directly or indirectly abetting the hostage-taking and preventing development to set in,” she said. “The peace process should not be used to shield criminals from their accountability for their crimes against innocent civilians.”

The government and the MILF signed last month a Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

The MILF leadership has accused the military of disturbing the "honeymoon period" between the government and the MILF following the death of its four members during the operations against the Abu Sayyaf.

According to military reports, nine ASG members were killed during the firefight. Among them was a certain Nur Espital who has been identified as a member of the MILF. Three other alleged MILF members, including a certain Imamul Mande, were wounded.

Said MILF members are connected by affinity to Furuji Indama, the top leader of the ASG and one of the most wanted men in the country, said Coronel-Ferrer, citing reports from the government’s ceasefire mechanisms. Furuji is charged with several cases of murder and kidnappings.

The four casualties affiliated with the MILF closed ranks with their family members in the ASG during the firefight.

A meeting among the ceasefire bodies and the Ad-Hoc Joint Action Group charged with coordination in criminal interdiction is reportedly scheduled to be held after the Lenten holidays.

“We expect both parties to renew their commitment and to come up with concrete operational guidelines that would allow them to effectively work together in securing the people’s safety and well-being in Basilan and elsewhere in Mindanao,” said Coronel-Ferrer.

The government chief negotiator also asked the help of all sectors, including the MILF, to give kidnap victims their best Easter gift ever: freedom from captivity.

"This year alone, 23 kidnapping cases were recorded in Basilan, Sulu, Zamboanga and Lanao provinces involving around 30 victims,” she said. “Let us join hands in redeeming them from a most terrible fate of being held hostage.”

“In the last three years, there were nearly 100 cases of abductions of children as young as a year old, students, businessmen, foreigners, journalists, senior citizens, barangay officials, and teachers. Many of these kidnap victims are still in captivity while some have been killed,” Coronel-Ferrer said. (SDR/Sunnex)

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