MILF 'loses' credibility to talk peace with government

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Thursday, March 26, 2015


THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) move to absolve some of its members involved in the killing of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers showed they cannot be trusted in peace negotiations, detained Senator Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada said on Thursday.

“To my mind, the MILF, through its actions on the Mamasapano massacre, lost serious ground in peace negotiations and eroded its own credibility in becoming the government’s partner in attaining peace and security in Mindanao,” said Estrada, as he hit the group’s finding that the SAF commandos were not “overkilled.”

In a 35-page report, the MILF said its fighters had to defend themselves against the elite police when the latter alleged fired first against them, noting the rebels' retaliation was "justified."

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Estrada backed the draft Senate report's findings that the SAF commandos were murdered.

Estrada said the group’s finding that the Moro combatants did not use “excessive” force is contradicting because the “brutal” death of the elite police showed that the rebels had no intention to keep them alive.

"The obliteration and gruesome of nearly all ground forces who entered Tukanalipao in lawful pursuit of terrorists Marwan and Basit Usman is indicative of a startling overkill by a group who is attempting to forge a peace with the government," he said.

Estrada slammed the MILF for its failure to monitor and detect the presence of two bomb makers Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Abdul Basit Usman near its area.

The two terrorists were the targets of the SAF troopers on their law enforcement operation launched in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25.

The botched operation claimed the lives of 67 persons, including Marwan and the 44 elite cops.

He also noted the group's failure to admit that some of its members had committed mistake in the bloody clash with SAF commandos.

Although the MILF admitted gaps in intelligence gathering, Estrada lamented how the group blamed the SAF for not coordinating the anti-terror mission with them.

“The MILF leadership failed to take charge over their members as they went trigger happy against policemen over a legitimate counterterrorism operation and to exercise respectable control over their area which became the hideout for international criminals,” the senator said.

The MILF and the government entered into a peace agreement last year, whose details were incorporated in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The Congress suspended public hearings on BBL following the Mamasapano incident but vowed to resume deliberations in April. (Sunnex)

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