Thursday, November 03, 2011

AFP: MILF can't stop us from arresting wanted members

The military on Wednesday said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) could not stop law enforcers from entering the rebels' territory in Al-Barka town in Basilan province so they can arrest those involved in the killing of 19 troops in an encounter there last Oct. 18.

“That is provided for in the ceasefire mechanism – the entry to the ATS to conduct law enforcement operation," said Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman of the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command.

The ATS refers Area of Temporary Stay, a place designated by the government and the MILF Coordinating Committees on Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) where rebel forces can stay to prevent encounters with troops pursuing criminal groups.

Cabangbang said government negotiators are coordinating with concerned MILF officials for the safe entry of the government troops in the ATS.

“If they (MILF) cannot cleanse their own ranks, then they should just allow the AFP and the PNP (Philippine National Police) to perform their mandate," said Cabanbang.

Cabangbang made the statement a day after MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar said they are not going to surrender Dan Laksaw Asnawi, the rebel leader being pursued by the soldiers when they were attacked by MILF forces on Oct. 18.

Asnawi, the deputy commander of the MILF’s 114th Base Command, was implicated in the beheading of 14 Marines following an encounter in Basilan in 2007. He escaped from a provincial jail in December 2009.

Meanwhile, Army chief Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz said the Army has already lodge complaints of ceasefire violation against the MILF in connection with the Oct. 18 clash.

“It is the mandate of the Army and PNP to go after criminals, through the process. If the MILF refuse to cooperate to the demand of the Army, the Army will continue with the pursuit operations against the criminals and bandits based on la and in accordance with the peace process," said Ortiz. - KBK, GMA News
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