Deles: Military-BIFF hostilities won't affect peace process

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

MANILA -- The Bangsamoro Transition Commission on Thursday said that it will not let the hostilities between the military and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao sabotage the peace process.

"I hope people will see this in perspective that we expect these challenges will happen. No peace agreement went through and flew without opposition. Laging meron yan and in many cases, it may be violent," said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles.

Deles and her party paid a courtesy call Thursday on Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senator Teofisto Guingona III, chairman of the committee on peace, unification and reconciliation.

"It is not that the challenge happens which is important, it is how we respond to it and I think what we are showing here is that the parties can stand firm and the parties on the part of the government includes not just the executive but the legislation. We can stand firm against these challenges and overcome them," Deles said.

She also reiterated his call to the BIFF, a breakaway group of the MILF, to end the conflict and join the peace process.

"This process is for the entire Bangsamoro. Hindi lang ito pang MILF. Hindi lang ito para sa mga lumaban but ang objective ay makalabas ng batas that will have an inclusive government that is taking the best care of its people as possible," Deles said.

Deles said that while the government wish that hostilities between the military and the BIFF be put to an end, it will also not allow any "hiccup" along the way to sabotage the peace process.

The peace agreement for the Bangasomoro people will be completed despite opposition from several groups, she added.

Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the Transition Commission and MILF chief negotiator, admitted that the hostilities in Maguindanao had become a cause of concern for the group, taking into consideration the civilians who may be affected by the fighting.

"It's a concern for us but the concern is mainly on civilians because civilians are non-combatants. Whether the fighting is involving the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the BIFF and any other group, when civilians are involved, it really concerns everybody," Iqbal said.

Last week, at least 50 were reported as fatalities in the fighting between the BIFF and government forces.

On Tuesday, an improvised explosive device went off in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. A 10-vehicle convoy composed of military trucks, and local government and media vehicles were about 100 to 200 meters from the explosion site, reports said.

Iqbal said the Transition Commission cannot do anything about the BIFF-military hostilities as there is no ceasefire agreement between the two groups.

"We cannot stop the Armed Forces of the Philippines to conduct a war against the members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters," he said. (Sunnex)

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