MILF says it is ready to help arrest Maguindanao massacre suspects | Inquirer News
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MILF says it is ready to help arrest Maguindanao massacre suspects

/ 07:14 AM November 28, 2020

File photos show MILF combatants in formation at Camp Darapanan, MILF’s biggest camp, in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. BONG SARMIENTO

COTABATO CITY — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said it is ready to assist law enforcers in arresting suspects tagged in the Maguindanao massacre in 2009 where  58 individuals were killed,  including 32 media workers.

Von al-Haq, spokesperson of the MILF’s armed wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), explained that the revolutionary group has a standing agreement with the government on the interdiction of criminals and crime suspects in rebel strongholds since 2002.

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The ad hoc joint action group (AHJAG) was established as a mechanism to make any law enforcement operation by government forces possible in these areas.

The mechanism was employed several times in the past in going after suspected al-Qaeda-linked terrorists lurking in Central Mindanao, without creating unnecessary provocation towards BIAF fighters.

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Al-Haq said that there were no joint efforts hatched between government troops and the BIAF to arrest massacre suspects in Maguindanao.

“It is therefore unfair that the MILF be painted as a coddler of suspected criminals,” al-Haq lamented.

Al-Haq also found it suspicious that the issue was brought up only now.

At the height of the martial law declared over Maguindanao by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2009 to hasten the pursuit of the suspects, the BIAF repositioned its forces to give way to the operation of Army troops.

In an online forum last Monday,  lawyer Nena Santos, counsel for Maguindanao Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu and other families of massacre victims, accused the MILF of protecting the remaining 76 suspects who remain at large.

Santos even said that the suspects are paying money in exchange for MILF protection.

“We never coddle criminals. It is a major violation of the ceasefire agreement between the MILF and the government,” al-Haq said.

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Earlier, al-Haq said it is possible that individual MILF members may be coddling their relatives who were implicated in the massacre, but the act should not be attributed to the revolutionary group.

In keeping with the 2014 peace deal between the MILF and the government, the BIAF is due for decommissioning.

As of September this year, 30 percent of its 40,000 regular forces have completed the process.

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TAGS: BIAF, Maguindanao massacre, MILF, Von Al Haq
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