ZAMBOANGA CITY ? The military has blamed the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf for the two bomb attacks in Iligan City last week which left three people dead and 40 others wounded.
?It bears the signature like in the previous bombings that we attributed to the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front). These bombers are Jemaah Islamiya-trained ? it?s the same signature,? Lt. Esteffani Cacho, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, said.
But MILF chief peace negotiator Muhammad Iqbal said there was nothing new to the allegation.
?That is not surprising since the Armed Forces of the Philippines is always on a war mode,? Iqbal told the Inquirer by phone.
?They try to accuse the MILF to justify their all-out war against us. The MILF follows the rules of engagement in accordance with international standards and besides, what do we get in hurting or killing civilians?? Iqbal added.
He said it was not fair for the military to label the MILF alongside the extremist bandits ?because the MILF is an ideological organization, we are not just accountable to the people but to Allah as well.?
Cacho said the bomb blasts in Iligan City were still considered ?isolated cases,? and that government forces under the Western Mindanao Command, covering the two Lanao provinces, the Zamboanga Peninsula, Sulu and Basilan, would only be on ?blue alert.?
This means that half of the troops will be on duty, while the other half can have their Christmas break.
Lt. General Nelson Allaga, Western Mindanao Command chief, said 75 percent of the ground forces must stay in their respective posts despite the holiday season and a four-shift scheme was designed to allow Christmas breaks for soldiers.
There are at least eight brigades of troops under the Western Mindanao Command.