MANILA -- President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday ruled out the possibility of suspending a ceasefire agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after a clash in Basilan last Tuesday left 19 soldiers dead.
“Are we advocating let’s go all-out war and that redounds an improvement to the situation? I think if you heard my speech earlier, we should have learned from the past. No one benefits from war,” Aquino said in an interview after gracing the 67th commemoration of the Leyte Gulf Landing at MacArthur Memorial Park, Palo, Leyte.
He said it would be prudent to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident before arriving at decisions.
“Many questions are needed to be answered. Who’s to blame on this? Who violated the ceasefire? et cetera. When we get all the details, it will tell you which course of direction to take. Jumping into conclusion is irresponsible,” he added.
President Aquino called for a command conference with the secretary of national defense and other military and police officials on Friday at Camp Aguinaldo.
The government peace panel earlier said that the clash will not affect the ongoing peace talks with the MILF. Government peace panel chair Marvic Leonen said the firefight was just "an isolated incident."
"We are confident that the current mechanisms for monitoring violations of the ceasefire agreement are in place and are effectively working. With the assistance of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as well as the ceasefire committees, we hope to be able to get a clearer picture of the causes of this incident," Leonen said in a statement.
At least 19 soldiers were killed during Tuesday’s firefight in Sitio Bakisong, Cambug village, Al-Barka town. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)