IF WE were to believe the news, a number of wanted suspects involved in the Maguindanao massacre had sought refuge in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front camp (MILF).

These killing machines are surely a big asset for renegade MILF forces but assuming that this is true, the separatist front is virtually cuddling and will find themselves riding the back of the tiger.

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These remnants of murderers, the MILF must bear in mind, are bereft of political ideology and neither have they any speck of religious faith. They are not capable of going beyond savagery which they had been nurtured by the handlers who are equally lacking of human compassion and the primal sense of value of human lives.

It is therefore disturbing that the MILF opened their territories for these murderers. Just because these band of criminals have relatives in the MILF hierarchy is not reason enough for them to be given free ticket to enter the MILF territories and then give them a mantle of protection. The MILF, if they have any claim to civility, ought to surrender these suspects. Otherwise, the government forces should pursue these savages whether or not they are within the territory of the rebel group.

If the MILF resists then should be dealt with measures that are appropriate given the fact that the stalled peace negotiation between them and the government has just recently resumed. We cannot afford to disregard the mounting cry for justice for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre while we listen to the fugitives having fiesta inside the MILF camps. The world has condemned the killing of 57 helpless victims, most of them journalists, and some of them Muslims.

The government forces should ferret them out from their hideouts if the MILF refuses to flush them out of their domain. But then, we are of the firm belief that the MILF will never condone the crime that these criminal fugitives have committed. They will go the mile to hunt the too as no one, not the MILF ever wants to ride the back of the tiger.

Rina de Jesus

Cotabato City

rina_de_jesus@yahoo.com