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Enrile: Peace talks might be part of MILF's delaying tactics

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front may be using the upcoming peace talks with government this November as a delaying tactic to regain its strength, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile warned the government Sunday.

Enrile, who served as defense minister under the Marcos administration, said the government may become weaker while the MILF stronger if the former continues to accommodate the latter.

“I’m not very optimistic about these peace talks. Delaying tactics lang yan," he said in an interview on dzBB radio.

He added that when the MILF broke the ceasefire agreement in Basilan, it was testing the government’s willpower.

“Inumpisahan ng MILF magpaputok ng baril, they violated the ceasefire, anong ibig sabihin? What is the message of the MILF preparatory to this negotiation? ... Tine-test nila (kung) gaano katigas ang dibdib ng gobyerno," he said.

“The longer we go on like this, the weaker we become and the stronger the enemy will become," he added.

Talks to tackle clash

But Malacañang on Sunday reiterated the government and the MILF will talk about how to avoid such incidents in the future during the November meeting.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said President Benigno Aquino III’s expectation of the talks is “how do we push forward the talks in light of the Basilan incident."

“Katulad ng sinabi ni Secretary Deles kahapon (Saturday), the Basilan incident will certainly be discussed with the panel when they meet for informal talks early next month," she said on government-run dzRB radio.

Also, Valte said “the president has not given any indication he is unhappy with Secretary Deles. We remain of the position that presidential peace adviser enjoys the trust and confidence of the president," she said.

Last Saturday, Deles said the government and the MILF will hold informal peace talks in November, likely to be held in Malaysia, adding that the two sides may take up the clash in Basilan in mid-October where 19 soldiers were killed.

The killing of the 19 soldiers sparked calls to scrap the peace process between the government and the MILF, but President Benigno Aquino III rejected such calls and adopted an “all-out justice" stance instead.

Aquino ordered that while government troops intensify their pursuit against the perpetrators, the peace talks with the MILF will continue.

But Enrile pointed out that avoiding violence for now may lead to greater violence in the end.

“In the end, mas madugo ang kalalabasan niyan. We are avoiding violence but we will meet greater violence...," he said.

Enrile also said that while he is not espousing using an iron fist to deal with the MILF, the government should respond accordingly to the MILF’s actions.

“We study the situation at gamitin ang dapat gamitin na remedyo. Kung binabaril ka, barilin mo rin sila," he said. — LBG, GMA News
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