PH gov’t open to receiving help from MNLF, MILF | Inquirer News

PH gov’t open to receiving help from MNLF, MILF

/ 04:06 PM May 29, 2017

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday said there is nothing wrong with President Rodrigo Duterte’s willingness to accept help from members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in fighting terrorists like the Maute group.

Duterte on Saturday told soldiers that MNLF founder Nur Misuari sent him a letter offering help in going after the Maute group, which attacked and burned down parts of Marawi City.

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AFP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla told Palace reporters that the President’s latest statement reflects his earlier calls for unity.

“So we have been successfully a partner of the peace process in regard to the MNLF and the CPLA (Cordillera People’s Liberation Army) and in the peace process was an integration mechanism of former fighters of the MNLF and the CPLA into the Armed Forces,” Padilla said.

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“If such a mechanism is employed for the benefit of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) once we are done with our talks, then so be it, because these are all welcome developments that we have been doing with the two previous talks that we have had with the MNLF and the CPLA,” he explained.

President Rodrigo Duterte and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman Nur Misuari. RENE LUMAWAG/File Photo

The MILF is currently pursuing peace negotiations with the Philippine government. Included in the earlier approved agreement of the two parties is a provision for the laying down of arms of MILF members and their possible integration into the military.

Padilla said it is not a new concept and that he encourages former enemies to join forces with the government and the Filipino people.

He said many of the former MILF fighters who eventually joined the military sacrificed their lives to protect their towns and military units.

He said one such hero was a Muslim soldier killed by a sniper of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a breakaway group of the MILF.

Abella said Misuari’s offer is “an example of rising above self-interest to close ranks against a brutal foreign enemy – the ISIS – which is both anti-Islam and anti-Filipino and, thirdly, anti-humanity.”

“So we appreciate that. It all depends now between the AFP and the MN how to best operationalize the offer,” he said.

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The MNLF first struck a peace agreement with the government in 1996. However, Misuari later questioned the negotiations between the government and the MILF, among other things. The faction of the group led by Misuari attacked Zamboanga City in 2013. Misuari has a pending arrest warrant because of the siege but it has been suspended to allow him to hold talks for the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement.

READ: Court again stops arrest of Misuari

Meanwhile, Padilla said security forces are monitoring the BIFF, another armed group based in Mindanao, which is providing support to the Maute group.

“They have in fact have tried to cause some diversionary activities in the areas where they are right now,” he said.

As for the New People’s Army, which has been ordered by the Communist Party of the Philippines to intensify attacks in Mindanao, Padilla said the military is ready for them.

He said there have been recent attempts to assault certain camps, which has been the case in the past. JPV/rga

READ: CPP vows intensify attacks to force gov’t to talk peace

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TAGS: AFP, Marawi City, MILF, Mindanao conflict, MNLF, Nur Misuari, Rodrigo Duterte
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