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Eid Kabalu doubts MILF didn’t know Marwan’s presence

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 04:32 PM January 28, 2015
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) FILE PHOTO

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – A former spokesman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said the MILF should be faulted for the presence of Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, in Mindanao because they knew it along but did not report the matter to the government.

Former MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu on Wednesday told Radyo Inquirer 990AM that the MILF has violated the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (Ahjag) between the Philippine government and the MILF.

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Kabalu said that under the agreement, the MILF should not allow “their community or their territory as sanctuary or coddling place of criminal elements, including terrorists.”

“The MILF is obliged to report to the government through the Ahjag the presence of the group (terrorists),” he said.

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Last Sunday members of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police barged into Mamasapano, Maguindanao to hunt down Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, or Marwan, one of Southeast Asia’s most-wanted terror suspects, and a top Filipino terror suspect, Abdul Basit Usman.

Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II said Marwan may have been killed in the raid but Usman escaped. Efforts to verify Marwan’s death were underway.

As the commandos withdrew, they came under fire from members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Some of the policemen maneuvered away in the dark and became entangled in a “misencounter” with heavily armed Muslim rebels belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, according to Roxas.

When the fierce fighting ended, 44 commandos were dead and 12 others were wounded, national police Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina said. Some Muslim rebels said as many as 56 of the elite policemen died in the daylong clashes, which left about a dozen insurgents dead.

Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator for the MILF, accused the SAF members of violating the ceasefire agreement, which requires government forces to coordinate anti-terror assaults and other law enforcement operations with the insurgents to prevent accidental clashes. Senior military officials said they also were unaware of the police offensive.

The carnage was the government’s biggest single-day combat loss in recent memory. It shocked many and prompted at least two senators to withdraw their backing for a bill that would create the Bangsamoro entity in the restive Mindanao under a peace deal signed last March. Many more lawmakers and influential Roman Catholic bishops defended the deal.

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In the Radyo Inquirer interview, Kabalu was asked if the MILF knew about the presence of Marwan in the area. He said he doubted if the MILF leadership was not aware of Marwan’s presence.

“I don’t believe if they (MILF) don’t know it,” he said.

He said the MILF and the government should be “blamed” for the failure of implementing the Ahjag, which he said was aimed to maintain the atmosphere of peace on the ground.

“Hindi gumagalaw so they should be faulted because…for non-action of the mechanisms they themselves created,” he said.

A peace agreement, according to him, was also created in 1976 and in 1996 and recently the Bangsamoro Bill, but the government failed to implement the previous agreements.

“Hanggang saang ba ang kakayanin ng gobyerno na implement ang mga agreement na ginawa nila.

Paikot-ikot lang ito,” he said.

He said the sincerity of both parties, the Philippine government and the MILF, is what is important.

“Ang importante yung sinseridad ng dalawang panig,” he said.

He said that according to reports coming from the ground, though not “conclusive,” the government forces involved in the clash were able to “pin down their target” Marwan.

“That has to be validated,” he said.

The MILF official recalled that President Benigno Aquino III months ago warned people in Davao and some places in Mindanao to be vigilant due to the possible retaliation of terrorists.

Kabalu said intelligence groups wondered where Aquino got his information but later found out that “the information was given by the MILF.”

Kabalu, who is now the Vice Chairman of the Bangsamoro Transformation Council, said that the parties involved in the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law should not let their emotions prevail amid the Maguindanao bloodbath.

The SAF chief was relieved of his post on Tuesday following the bloody clash in Maguindanao.

The PNP has also created a board of inquiry to investigate the incident.

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TAGS: Bangsamoro, death, Eid Kabalu, Encounter, Maguindanao, MILF, Mindanao, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Peace agreement, Police, rebellion, Terrorists
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