GMA News Online – Bongbong Marcos: MILF’s return of stripped-off rifles the opposite of goodwill

By Amita O. Legaspi | GMA News Online

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Sen. Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr on Tuesday urged the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to be more forthright in its dealings with the Philippine government especially in connection with the Mamasapano clash.

“The MILF in its gestures of goodwill need to be more forthright here because this kind of mixed response is not exactly helpful. Alang-alang ito na makabalik na tayo sa proseso ng kapayapaan para yung mga kapatid natin sa Muslim Mindanao ay hindi na masasabak sa giyera,” Marcos said during the Senate hearing on Mamasapano incident.

He said the return of the firearms of the fallen 44 Special Action Force commandos was a sign of good faith but it was destroyed by the fact that the firearms were cannibalized.

“The symbolism of good faith is destroyed by the fact that the firearms were tampered with first, pinalitan ung pyesa bago ibinalik.. Kinuha yung magandang piyesa at ginamit pansarili at pinalitan ng bulok. That ruins the entire symbolic gesture of good faith, sayang naman. good opportunity to regain trust,” the senator said.

The MILF on February 19 returned to the Philippine National Police the firearms of the SAF commandos killed in Mamasapano last month. However, 14 of the 16 firearms were reportedly cannibalized.

“What is supposed to be a confidence-building measure and an act of good faith has turned into the precise opposite. And this is a classic case of adding insult to injury. In this case, adding insult to death,” Marcos said.

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, for his part, reiterated that the January 25 incident was regrettable but the people should also understand the MILF.

“(The return of the firearms was) a gesture of goodwill that we are willing to do anything possible to do. We have spent a lot of political capital in convincing our fighters to give us back the firearms, so that they would be returned to the PNP. it took us really hard time to convince our commanders and our fighters to return the firearms. We also spent lives,” he said.

He said the remaining firearms and the personal effects of the SAF commandos will be returned as soon as they get them.

Iqbal also proposed the creation of an independent body to probe the supposed cannibalizing of the firearms.

“For the sake of finding the truth, I’m still pushing for an independent investigation so that all these things can be investigated and the truth will really come out. I’m referring to the firearms that are reported to have been cannibalized because it puts the MILF in the bad light. For the sake of transparency, there has to be an independent investigation so that what really happened would be known by everybody,” he said.

No surrender

Marcos also adverted that the statement of the MILF that the commanders were involved in Mamasapano clash are not going to be identified or turned over and it will be an internal matter in the MILF.

“Again, this does not inspire confidence in the public,” he said.

He further said that there have been no concrete measures seen on the promise of MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal in the previous hearing that the MILF will assist in the identification and the finding of Usman.

Marcos also said that there is still a need for a clarification on the relationship between the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

“Blanket denials will not suffice. We need to do more,” he said.

“You (Iqbal) must communicate to the leadership of the MILF that people are waiting for these trust building measures, these confidence-building measures. And when they are partial, they are delayed, and they do not seem to be done in good faith, that is where we will have our problem,” Marcos added.

“And so it an advice and a fervent request on my part for Chairman Iqbal, please, please try to convince the leadership of the MILF that these trust-building measures, these confidence-inspiring measures are important for us to return to the peace process,” said Marcos.

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