Erap on MILF: Only all-out war will work
Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) - January 28, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said yesterday that only an all-out war against the Muslim rebels could solve the secessionist problem in Mindanao.

Estrada told The STAR that peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are doomed to fail because the government cannot trust the rebels.

He said the killing of over 40 members of the police Special Action Force (SAF) after a clash with combined forces of the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Sunday is an indication that the rebels are not serious about ending the conflict in Mindanao.

Estrada said that when he was president one of the primary reasons he declared an all-out war against the MILF was because he could not trust the secessionist group.

“The only solution there is an all-out war. During my time as president, I engaged the MILF with peace talks, ceasefire, peace talks, ceasefire. But what happened, they continue to create havoc in Mindanao. The MILF is already 40 years and it will never stop,” he said.

Estrada said that the government has not been remiss in its duty to offer its hands for peace, “but the peace offering of the government has not been reciprocated” by the rebel group.

He said this bloody incident would lead to another travel advisory from other countries to warn foreigners not to visit the Philippines.

He asked the people to just pray that the Aquino administration would be able to succeed in its peace talks with the MILF.

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano warned the government that it must not negotiate with the MILF from a point of weakness.

Cayetano, who withdrew his support for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), said that the government should never allow anyone to get away with murder, regardless of the fact that the peace process with the MILF could be at stake.

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito had also withdrawn his co-authorship of the proposed BBL.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate committee on local government, has suspended the hearings of his panel regarding the BBL until the MILF explains its side on the encounter.

The House ad hoc committee on the BBL has also decided to suspend discussions on the measure’s provisions pertaining to national defense and public order following the clash.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the ad hoc committee, said discussions on the four key issues would not be resumed until the concerned agencies report to the panel.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto assailed the MILF for allegedly harboring Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and his local cohort Basit Usman that were the targets of the police operation in Maguindanao.

Recto said if it is true that the MILF is harboring them, they should surrender Marwan and Usman to the authorities.

Malacañang appealed to lawmakers yesterday to consider the adverse consequences of giving up on the peace process with the MILF at this time.

“While recognizing the challenges posed by the violent incident in Mamasapano, it is important to keep in mind the vital objective of attaining long-term peace, stability and progress in Mindanao,” said Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

 

Calls for peace

Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno has called for sobriety in the wake of the deadly clash between SAF and MILF rebels in Maguindanao.

In a rare statement issued yesterday, the Supreme Court chief also opposed calls for war pending a government investigation on the incident that killed 44 policemen. – With Edu Punay, Marvin Sy, Christina Mendez, Aurea Calica, Paolo Romero

AUREA CALICA BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW BANGSAMORO ISLAMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS BASIT USMAN CHIEF JUSTICE MA CHRISTINA MENDEZ MAGUINDANAO MILF MINDANAO PEACE
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