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MILF dared: Expel criminal members

Govt panelist snipes at Sayyaf supporters

THE government has asked the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to “expel” its members who it says have supported the Abu Sayyaf and other criminal elements in the south.

Government chief negotiator Miriam Ferrer made the call after a military operation against Abu Sayyaf top leader Furuji Indama in Basilan last week left 20 people dead, including two soldiers and four MILF members.

Ferrer
“As an organization that signed the peace agreement, the MILF must not tolerate the criminal acts of any of their individual members. They must do their part in arresting the impunity long enjoyed by these unscrupulous individuals,” Ferrer said.

“They should expel from their ranks those who reject peace and are directly or indirectly abetting the hostage-taking and preventing development to set in.”

Still, MILF Vice Chairman Ghadzali Jaafar mourned the death of the four MILF members and asked an independent ceasefire-monitoring body to look into the military attack.

But Ferrer noted that the MILF casualties were connected by affinity to Indama, one of the most wanted men in the country and who has been charged with several cases of murder and kidnappings.

“The peace process should not be used to shield criminals from their accountability for their crimes against innocent civilians,” Ferrer said.

She said the ceasefire-monitoring body as well as the government-MILF Ad Hoc Joint Action Group were scheduled to meet soon.

“We expect both parties to renew their commitment and to come up with concrete operational guidelines that would allow them to effectively work together in securing the people’s safety and well-being in Basilan and elsewhere in Mindanao,” Ferrer said.

The Basilan incident took place days before the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, led by MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, submitted the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to the Palace.

The BBL will create the Bangsamoro, a political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

A Palace legal team composed of deputy executive secretary for legal affairs Michael Aguinaldo, chief presidential legal counsel Benjamin Caguioa, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, and other government legal experts is now going through the draft BBL.

The leadership of both houses of Congress have committed to pass the BBL by December, after which a plebiscite will be held in the first quarter of 2015.

The plebiscite will cover the current provinces and cities in the ARMM, the cities of Isabela and Cotabato, six municipalities in Lanao del Norte, and 39 villages in six municipalities in Cotabato.

After the plebiscite, the government aims to put the Bangsamoro Transition Authority in place by 2015 to serve as the interim government until the elections in 2016.

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