Inquirer – Bongbong urges gov’t, MILF: Develop trust in each other’s intentions

By Maila Ager | Inquirer.net

Logo_Inquirer.net

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. urged the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Monday to develop bilateral confidence-building measures that would restore the public’s trust in the peace process between the two parties.

“We have not abandoned this peace process. We have not abandoned the hope that we will finally bring peace to Muslim Mindanao. But again, we need to know the facts of what happened on both sides of the conflict,” Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on local government, said during a press conference in the Senate.

“But until we have those facts, I’d like to propose that there be some confidence building measures between the MILF and the government that can be seen by the Filipino populace…,” he said.

On the part of the MILF, Marcos said it should first return the arms, equipment and personal effects of members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) who were killed last January 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

“That’s not very hard…It will be a sign of good faith on their part,” he said.

The MILF, he said, should also assist government forces in arresting Abdul Basit Usman, who escaped the fatal operation of the PNP-SAF intended to arrest him and fellow bomb-making expert Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.

“They must demonstrate that the disarmament process has actually began, that they are willing to lay down their arms and give those arms not to their own commanders but to a third party or the government,” the senator said.

Marcos said the Moro rebels must likewise identify the commanders, whose units were involved in the killings of the SAF members.

“These units have to be identified by the MILF, the commanders must be asked to explain how this happened and for them to do that, again, it will be a very important sign of good faith,” he said.

And the most important gesture of good faith on the part of the MILF, he said, is to explain its true relationship with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), which was suspected behind the Mamasapano ambush.

“If they are separate, then should we not include the BIFF in the peace talks because no matter how well we come to an agreement with the MILF, if there’s still an armed group that is waging war against the government, then what we are searching for which is peace will never occur,” he said.

“If they are together, if the MILF and the BIFF are working together, it will be a sign of bad faith on their part…,” he added.

Meanwhile, Marcos said, the government must explain the circumstances that led to the bloody encounter between the PNP-SAF and Moro rebels.

“First of all, the question of chain of command during this operation has to be clarified. Nobody can understand how it is that a very major operation of a big group of our forces was ordered to undertake this mission without the acting PNP-Deputy Director (Leonardo) Espina knowing? How is it possible that the Secretary of the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) also did not know?” he asked.

“Now, we hear from the Palace that the President knew. We also hear the involvement of the suspended (PNP) Director General Alan Purisima was involved. What does this mean?”

“We also have to give confidence to the MILF that the people they are talking to are the people, who are issuing the commands are the people who are in fact running the show because there’s no use talking to somebody who has no influence, who has no authority…,” he further said.

Back to Blog