MILF rejects calls to turn over combatants
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - February 23, 2015 - 7:20pm

MANLA, Philippines - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has rejected calls to turnover its combatants who were involved in the deadly encounter in Mamasapano, saying this would violate their “core values.”

In an editorial posted on its website luwaran.com, the rebel group said surrendering its members would go against the principles governing the parties of the peace process.

“We have returned to the government the firearms in our position and we have reiterated our full commitment to work with government to defeat terrorism in this country. But please do not force the MILF to turn over our combatants,” the editorial read.

“This will not only violate the very principles that guide the Parties in their 17 long and harsh years of negotiations, but it also destroys the very core values that we are willing to defend unto death if our integrity as a people and the justness of our cause are violated,” it added.

The MILF said parties involved in the peace process should be guided by basic principles like mutual respect and parity of esteem, abiding by commitments, equal and fair application of justice, and upholding truth.

One party should not be placed in a humiliating position, the group added.

“(The parties should) help one another in times of crisis for mutual benefits for the sake of the peace efforts,” MILF said.

Various sectors have challenged the MILF to prove its sincerity to the peace talks by surrendering its combatants who were behind the brutal killing of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers in Mamasapano last January 25.

They also demanded that the MILF surrender the firearms and equipment stolen from the fallen police commandos.

The MILF has so far returned 16 of the 64 firearms seized from the SAF troopers but sources said all of them have been cannibalized.

The group, however, said being forced to surrender firearms is not part of any of the agreements it signed with the government.

“In clear terms, forcing the MILF to surrender its forces who figured in that unfortunate incident in Mamasapano on January 25 is subjecting the MILF to agree to an unprincipled situation that is not found in any of the agreements of the Parties,” MILF said. 

“Besides, granting that in the beginning it was a ‘misencounter’ between friendly forces or those observing the ceasefire, but later it turned out to be a bloody life-and-death struggle that at that precise moment the parties viewed each other as enemies,” it added.

The situation, MILF said, made those who have died during the clash “casualties of war” and the captured weapons “war booty.”

“The MILF is not only a revolutionary or liberation movement, but it has its own ideology which is Islam and from which ideological, political, organization and military issues are clearly set in proper perspectives,” the group said. 

“Therefore, the MILF can be very flexible and very accommodating in other matters especially material things, but when principles are involved, we are very consistent.” - with a report from Keith Calayag

FIREARMS GROUP KEITH CALAYAG MAMASAPANO MILF MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT PARTIES PEACE PRINCIPLES SPECIAL ACTION FORCE
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