Lacson to peace panel: Wake up to reality

MANILA -- The recent violence in Mindanao that have claimed the lives of at least 25 Filipino soldiers are part of an old story of bandits taking refuge in territory held by the Moro rebels, a senator said.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, who was Philippine National Police director general during the Estrada administration, said the government's peace negotiators "should now wake up to that reality."

"Review history and you will easily see the pattern and timing of escalation of the MILF ‘rogues’ atrocities," he said in a press statement.

He said it has been an "annoying common experience" that soldiers and police officers have been killed for failing to see the difference between "between 'real' and 'rogue' MILF fighters in the past several years."

"It has become a vicious cycle: the ‘rogues’ conduct atrocities, kidnap civilians, or attack and ambush our troops then seek refuge within the confines of the MILF encampments or ‘territories’," he added.

Lacson has taken a hard line against the MILF since an ambush in Basilan killed 19 Philippine Army soldiers last Monday, calling for an "all-out war" in response to the clash. Several other clashes between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the MILF have been reported since then.

His classmate at the Philippine Military Academy, Senator Gregorio Honasan, as well as two senators from Mindanao -- Teofisto Guingona III and Aquilino Pimentel III -- have called for the government to keep a ceasefire with the MILF in place. Earlier Sunday, Senator Franklin Drilon called for public support for the peace process, saying only a peace deal will prevent future conflicts.

But Lacson has a different take: “Everybody wanting peace in Mindanao is a no-brainer. Pray tell me, how can we have real and lasting peace when we allow an organized group to bear arms and worse, unofficially allow their belligerence status?” (Jonathan de Santos/Sunnex)

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