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MILF reminds police of need to coordinate on arrests of members

John Unson - Philstar.com
MILF reminds police of need to coordinate on arrests of members
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza (left) and Hadji Murad Ebrahim and Ghazali Jaafar of the MILF at a breakfast meeting in 2016.
JOHN UNSON, file

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front on Monday urged Malacañang to investigate into allegedly unilateral police actions against rebels supposedly covered by agreed government-MILF security protocols.

Among the latest MILF members killed for reportedly resisting arrest is Mohaimen Abo, a younger brother of the group’s first vice chairman, Ghazali Jaafar. Jaafar is also chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

Abo, also known as Boy Bangsamoro and Ustadz Abo, was charged with kidnap for ransom, murder, frustrated murder and homicide in two courts in central Mindanao.

“We strongly request the Government of the Philippines, particularly the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, to look seriously and urgently into these alarming actions of the Philippine National Police. These police operations might negatively affect the peace process,” said Sammy Al-Mansour, chief of the MILF’s self-styled Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces.

Jaafar had earlier told reporters his brother, shot dead for refusing to yield to policemen who tried to peacefully serve him warrants for his arrest, was a regular member of the MILF.

Senior Superintendent Agustin Tello, director of the Maguindanao provincial police, said the agents who tried to arrest Abo in Sultan Kudarat town last week were forced to neutralize him when he resisted and tried to shoot them with a pistol.

“As in the present alarming situation, the raids of the PNP against BIAF members, if left unabated, may escalate tension and spark violent armed encounters,” Al-Mansour said in a written statement distributed to journalists.

He said law enforcement operations in recognized rebel communities are supposedly a mutual joint initiative of the government and the MILF, based on all security agreements crafted by both sides.

Al-Mansour said efforts to address security issues in areas covered by their 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities are governed by bilateral coordination protocols.

“As a matter of record, when the coordination mechanisms were faithfully observed, peace and order was maintained on the ground. If not, as in the case of the Mamasapano encounter, armed clashes eventually happened and put at risk the gains of the peace process,” he said.

The MILF has blamed lack of coordination by the PNP for the January 25, 2015 “Mamasapano incident” that left 44 personnel of the police’s elite Special Action Force, 17 MILF guerrillas and five villagers dead.

The SAF commandos were killed when they were attacked by armed men, including MILF members, while moving out of Inog-og area in Barangay Pidsandawan in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao after killing wanted Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, most known as Marwan.

A third group, the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which also operates in areas where there are MILF forces, was also involved in the gunfights that lasted for more than 10 hours.

The MILF said the bloodshed could have been avoided had the PNP coordinated its mission to arrest Marwan right in his hideout, a conflict flashpoint area covered by its interim ceasefire accord with Malacañang.

Al-Mansour asked Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza to look into the issue to forestall adverse implications to the current government-MILF peace process.

Peace talks between the government and the MILF started on January 7, 1997 and, after 17 years of negotiation, reached a deal, the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

Jaafar leads the BTC — comprised of representatives from the MILF, the Moro National Liberation Front and the government — now drafting a law needed to legitimize the implementation of the accord.

The output of the commission, however, shall be subject to approval by Congress.

BANGSAMORO TRANSITION COMMISSION

MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER ON THE PEACE PROCESS

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