Santiago calls on military to enter MILF areas

MANILA -- Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, on Monday, said Philippine security forces should be allowed to enter Moro Islamic Liberation Front "areas of temporary stay" to go after lawless elements.

She said pursuit operations against criminals fall under "military necessity" as defined under the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity, which was passed in 2009. The law defines military necessity as "necessity of employing measures which are indispensable to achieve a legitimate aim of the conflict and are not otherwise prohibited by International Humanitarian Law."

She said military necessity "trumps any ceasefire agreement." She made these remarks in reaction to recent MILF attacks in Basilan and Lanao del Norte that left soldiers and plantation workers dead.

According to a dzMM radio report, the attacks were caused by a failure by the MILF to tell its sub-commands that it agreed to suspend hostilities Saturday.

"We don’t have to wait for the next round of peace talks in Kuala Lumpur. Great necessity requires great action to defend the state. We do not need the approval of the International Monitoring Team or the MILF,” she said.

She warned that if the government continues to stay out of these areas of temporary stay, the military will be “so severely hampered in its law enforcement functions that the Philippines would be flirting with the status of a failed state.” (Jonathan de Santos/Sunnex)

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