MILF told: Return guns, uniforms, phones stolen from slain SAF men | Inquirer News
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MILF told: Return guns, uniforms, phones stolen from slain SAF men

… Ex-peace negotiator: No need to coordinate manhunt for terrorists with MILF
ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman. INQUIRER file photo

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman. INQUIRER file photo

COTABATO CITY, Philippines–Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has challenged the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to hand over the firearms, mobile phones and other personal belongings of the 44 Special Action Force members killed in the Mamasapano encounter on Jan. 25.

Earlier reports had it that MILF rebels had stripped the slain SAF men of their belongings, including uniforms and mobile phones. The reports also said the Moro gunmen involved in the clash took their firearms.

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“I challenge the MILF to hand over the firearms, mobile phones, fatigue uniforms and other properties of the fallen elite police force to improve confidence in the peace process,” Hataman told reporters here.

“If I had my way, the firearms and other things taken from the SAF should be turned over to the government,” Hataman added.

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For the items taken by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters gunmen, Hataman said it would be difficult to pressure the breakaway group, founded by Ustadz Umra Kato, to turn over the firearms.

“It is out of the question,” he said, amid the BIFF admission its fighters got 10 firearms from the slain policemen.

But he said the MILF was different from the BIFF because the former has been in a peace process with the Philippine government for years and signed a comprehensive peace agreement with the Aquino government in 2014.

“This is a challenge to the MILF… Partners na ang MILF at government, so there should be some confidence rebuilding because it was destroyed by the bloody incident,” Hataman said.

On Tuesday, Hataman called the regional peace and order council to a meeting to gather and put together the pieces of “the puzzle that surrounded the bloody carnage which left 44 elite police, 18 Moro fighters and five civilians killed.”

“We tried to piece the information and the stories together as to how the encounter unfolded and ended,” he said.

“We have at least a picture as to what happened but I will not make it public, instead we will submit it to Congress if the legislative body so desires,” Hataman added.

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Moner Hassan, a worker for an internationally funded peace program in the ARMM, said he feared that a sinister plot to derail the peace process was behind the Mamasapano bloodshed to keep the Bangsamoro Basic Law hanging.

He said “investigators should go deeper on why the PNP-SAF, an elite and highly trained unit of the national police, broke several established protocols,” adding that others even suspected that a government-initiated probe might lead to a whitewash.

The MILF had said the failure of the SAF to coordinate was the main reason the bloody encounter took place.

But former government chief negotiator Jesus Dureza said under the peace process, the MILF was well aware that a law enforcement operation against foreign and local terrorists would not have to be coordinated with the rebel group.

Dureza said the SAF operation against Marwan and Basit Usman was no exception.

“In fairness to police operations, the ceasefire agreement and the implementing guidelines between the government and MILF clearly never required prior coordination in operations against high value, priority targets,” Dureza said.

“Subsequently, the implementing guidelines and even the recent military and police operational guidelines clearly excluded operations against high value targets like Marwan and Usman,” he said.

“What I cannot understand is why up to now, the central government and the PNP headquarters in Manila have not released this vital information in fairness to our fallen SAF commandos,” Dureza added.

He said the guidelines on the ceasefire were strengthened in February 2012.

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TAGS: atrocity, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Forces, Basit Usman, biff, bloodshed, carnage, Ceasefire, clash, confidence-building measures, Encounter, gun battle, Jesus Dureza, law enforcement, Maguindanao, Mamasapano, manhunt for terrorists, Marwan, massacre of policemen, MILF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Mujiv Hataman, News, peace process, Philippine Government, Philippine National Police, pursuit operations, serving of an arrest warrant, Special Action Force, suspected terrorists, terror suspects, warrant of arrest, Zulkifli bin Hir
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