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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Malacañang expects MILF to help in neutralizing Abu Sayyaf bandits


By Joyce Pangco Panares, Francisco Tuyay and Florante S. Solmerin
Publish in Mst.com

MALACAÑANG said Thursday it expects the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to help the government neutralize the Abu Sayyaf, which may seek refuge in MILF strongholds.
“The government is seriously engaging with the MILF because they are a partner in attaining peace and order in the [future] Bangsamoro,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.
“And it is not just condemnation that we expect from the MILF in support, especially since the center of operations of the ASG is within the Bangsamoro area. It is already a given that there will be cooperation in the pursuit operations against the bandit group,” Coloma said.
He made his statement even as gunmen of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a breakaway group of the MILF, killed two Army soldiers, and apparently in retaliation for the arrest of a high-ranking BIFF member.
Reports said at least seven BIFF members launched the attack on a Maguindanao hospital to avenge the arrest of Abi Salman, also known as Sauman Usman, who is said to be a distant relative of bomb expert Basit Usman.
In Sultan Kudarat, retreating BIFF gunmen gunned down the brother of a village chairman after harassing an Army camp with gunfire before dawn on Thursday.
On Wednesday, President Benigno Aquino III said the public could expect “very significant achievements” in the government’s efforts to suppress the Abu Sayyaf amid fears that the reported P60 million in ransom paid for the release of two German hostages last week would strengthen the capability of the bandit group.
The President said he gave specific orders to the Armed Forces and the National Police to neutralize the Abu Sayyaf.
“They were also being told exactly what the measure of achievement of targets is and I expect that—not to preempt their activities...I don’t want to say by next week, I don’t give deadlines—but you will see very significant accomplishments as far as the suppressing the Abu Sayyaf is concerned,” Aquino said.
He said the Abu Sayyaf’s strength had dwindled to 400 in Sulu, including auxiliary support.
The President, however, remained coy on whether ransom was indeed paid by non-state groups to secure the release of the two Germans.
“You should ask the people who negotiated rather than me. And in this particular case, the Germans were the ones who were negotiating, and that’s the answer to the question.” Aquino said.

“Let me state, it is a Philippine government policy that we don’t negotiate with terrorists and we don’t pay ransom. As for other governments, if they do so, it is not our call. They have their sovereign rights, they have their directions, they have their policies.”
Source:http://manilastandardtoday.com/2014/10/24/malaca-ang-expects-milf-to-help-in-neutralizing-abu-sayyaf-bandits/

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