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MILF not a terrorist group—Malacañang

/ 02:02 PM February 11, 2015

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Wednesday said it was not considering the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) a terrorist group despite reports that it was coddling Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan.

“Based on the initial reports of the BOI (Board of Inquiry) as presented, Marwan and (Basit) Usman were in BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) territory,” Secretary Edwin Lacierda told Palace reporters in a text message.

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Marwan and Usman were the targets of a Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) operation in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao last January 25. While the mission succeeded in killing Marwan, it resulted in the death of 44 policemen after a supposed “misencounter” with the MILF and the BIFF.

Last year, the government and the MILF inked a final peace pact. However, the recent incident cast doubts on the agreement and the ongoing peace process.

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Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr. on Tuesday told Senate that they have been receiving reports that Marwan and Usman were in MILF territory. However, he said it was not verified.

“We are receiving information sometimes, but it’s not sure,” he said.

Lacierda said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles had insisted that the peace talks “have been premised on a clear disavowal from MILF that it is not engaged in terrorism and that the talks have always been with coordination with the intelligence sector.”

“And on instances where there are allegations of activities, Secretary Ging also mentioned that those allegations have been raised with the MILF in the strongest terms,” he added.

Not terrorists

Rashid Ladiasan, chairman of the MILF’s Committee on Cessation of Hostilities, denied the accusation that the group are terrorists.

“We are not terrorists—(we) the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front). We’ve been fighting terrorism in all forms through the peace process,” he said Tuesday, in response to Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.

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He said they have already addressed such issues. He also denied that they are working with the BIFF, which is a splinter group of the MILF.

“We even provided places and cooperation with the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines to allow the peace process to undertake its course. We’ve been doing all of these,” Ladiasan has said.

BIFF inside MILF camps

Despite the MILF’s claim, the military has plotted the camps of the BIFF right within the camps of the MILF in Mamasapano, specifically the MILF’s 105th and 118th Base Commands.

Also, during the clash with PNP-SAF troops, the government forces were attacked simultaneously by BIFF and MILF fighters.

Even after the clash and after the MILF learned that they were fighting government forces, there were no reports that it accosted members of the BIFF who fired upon the SAF members.

The MILF has also insisted that it did not know that the terrorists Marwan and Usman were in their territory, despite government intelligence reports that the two had been living in Mamasapano for years.

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TAGS: Alan Purisima, Getulio Napeñas, Maguindanao, Maguindanao massacre, Malacañang, Mamasapano, Mamasapano encounter, Marwan, MILF, PNP-SAF, SAF, SAF 44, Senate, Senate hearing, Terrorism, terrorist, Zulkifli bin Hir
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