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Palace to MILF: Cooperate with us or stand aside

A Malacañang official on Tuesday said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) should "stand aside" if it does not intend to help the government track down the perprators in the killing of 19 soldiers in Basilan last October 18.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte reiterated that any plan to deploy more troops to Basilan was not against the MILF "as an entity but against lawless elements."

"Either they [MILF members] cooperate or stand aside and let our law enforcers do their jobs," Valte said.

On Oct. 18, nineteen Army soldiers, including four junior officers, were killed after a six-hour firefight with armed men led by Asnawi in Al-Barka town.

Nine rebels were also killed in the clash.

The military said the armed men were reinforced by members of the MILF, despite a ceasefire between the government and the secessionist group as part of the ongoing peace negotiations.

However, the MILF claimed it was the military that violated the truce by launching an attack within their area of temporary stay (ATS).

The clash prompted several calls to scrap the peace process between the government and MILF rebels, but President Benigno Aquino III rejected these demands and insisted on an "all-out justice" rather than an "all-out war" in the southern Philippine province.

For her part, presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles has maintained that despite the Basilan clash, preparations for the resumption of peace negotiations in November will continue.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) last week finished its own investigation on the clash, but its officials refused to make public the report.

The MILF meanwhile called for a halt to ongoing pursuit operations by police and military forces to let the "ceasefire mechanism" work. - VVP, GMA News
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MARK D. MERUEÑAS, GMA News
11/01/2011 | 01:10 PM

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