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Marcos hits MILF defiance

PUBLIC trust for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) may totally break down if the rebel group will not surrender the men who were involved in the deadly Mamasapano incident last January 25,  Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. warned on Saturday.

At the same time, the Palace said it would be better for the MILF to air at a proper court of law its claim that its members participated in the Mamasapano incident only because they were trying to defend themselves.

Marcos
“There are proper places for them to air such kind of a defense,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson and lawyer Abigail Valte said as Marcos stressed that the MILF position not to surrender the involved men does not help restore the public trust that was lost in the wake of the incident.

“Vice Chairman Jaafar’s statement clearly shows no respect for the rule of law and a blatant disregard to the feeling of the people crying out for justice for the SAF killed by the MILF fighters in Mamasapano. This will not help in regaining the people’s trust in them,” Marcos said.

Marcos is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, which is conducting public hearings on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), a measure that will create a Bangsamoro political entity to replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Marcos said the government should make a clear stand that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the Framework Agreement signed by the government and the MILF allows the arrest of MILF members charged with criminal offenses under the existing laws of the land.

“The MILF’s non-cooperation will bring into question the wisdom of continuing with the BBL hearings,” said Marcos.

“If the MILF leadership will not surrender their members, then the belief that they are protecting wanted criminals and terrorists will be reinforced,” Marcos said.

Valte, on the other hand, did not comment on the assertion of MILF Vice Chairman Ghadzali Jaafar that the rebel group will not surrender its men because they were only defending themselves.

“Mayroon pong tamang lugar para ilabas yung nga ganitong depensa, at lalo kung kaso naman po ang kakaharapin, ay doon na lang po din puedeng maipaliwanag yung ganyang depensa

“There are proper places for them to air such a defense and they can explain such a defense in the proper court,” Valte said in an interview over state-owned Radyo ng Bayan.

Valte said the Department of Justice should not be faulted for finding 90 members of the MILF and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters criminally liable for the incident.

“The DOJ is only doing its job of initiating prosecution against persons who may be guilty of some criminal acts under our law,” Valte stressed.

The death of 44 SAF commandos, 17 MILF fighters, and five civilians in the Mamasapano clash led to the suspension of congressional hearings on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). But the Aquino administration will continue to explain the details of the agreement despite the suspension of hearisng, Valte said.

“So kahit po mainit pa ‘yung mga emosyon, kahit marami hong tumututol, ipagpapatuloy lang po natin ‘yung pagpapaliwang kung bakit naniniwala po tayong ang pagpasa ng BBL ay isang mahalagang hakbang para makamit ‘yung kapayapaang ginugusto natin para diyan,

“Even if emotion are still hot, even if there are many people opposing it, we will continue to explain why there is a need to pass the BBL [because] it is a very important step for us to achieve peace that we want there,” Valte said.

Meanwhile, Iyad Bin Amin Madani, secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, led an eight-man delegation for a four-day visit to the Philippines to reaffirm its support to the Mindanao peace process.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles said the visit of Madani shows the OIC’s firm commitment to help in the current peace efforts in Mindanao.

“OIC has contributed so much to the peace process since the Tripoli accord and now more than ever, Filipinos both Muslims and Christians look to you for guidance and support to open a new era of social peace and progress in Mindanao,” she told Madani during the meeting.

Madani expressed the OIC’s full support and commitment to the Bangsamoro peace process.

He said their mission is to boost their role in the peace process, saying that the OIC has long been involved in the effort to address the conflict in Mindanao and secure the welfare of Muslims in the country.

Prior to his arrival here on Thursday, Madani had a three-day visit in Malaysia where he met Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak.

The OIC said the two sides “discussed the status of the peace agreement on the Southern Philippines. The Secretary General stressed the need for all parties to remain committed to the peace agreement.” 

Madani also met with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr, Representatives Rufus Rodriguez, Bai Sandra Sinsuat A. Sema and Sitti Djalia Hataman.

He also met with the Senate Peace, Unity and Reconciliation Committee Chair Senator Teofisto Guingona III. Madani noted during these meetings the current legislative work on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The OIC secretary general will also meet top leaders of the MNLF and MILF to strengthen the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum, which was created by the OIC to harmonize the two Moro fronts.

Together with Madani are Sayed El-Masry, OIC Special Envoy for Peace in the Southern Philippines; Maha Mostafa Akeel, director of the OIC Department of Information; Dr. Hassan Ahmad Abdein, Head of the OIC Department of Muslim Communities and Minorities; Saidu Dodo, Liaison Officer for OIC Special Envoy for PCSP; Mohammed Adoum, Personal Assistant to the OIC Sec-Gen; Mohammed Naghi, Protocol Officer; and Ahmad Madani.

Madani is expected to meet President Benigno Aquino III, and Senate President Franklin  Drilon before flying back to Saudi Arabia on Monday.

The OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organization, next to the United Nations, composed of 57 member-states spread over four continents.

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