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State raises concession in ultimatum to MILF

by AJLPP-USA Wednesday, Jul. 25, 2007 at 3:18 PM
ajlpp_socal@yahoo.com 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

Making it more apparent that it is walking on eggshells on the matter, the government yesterday said while its set deadline for it had lapsed last Sunday, its doors are still open to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to surrender its members who were responsible for killing 14 Marines soldiers after an encounter in the island province of Basilan in the South two weeks ago. Government peace panel chief Rodolfo Garcia told reporters in an interview that even after its ultimatum had passed with the Muslim secessionist group ignoring its call, the government still hopes the MNLF’s leadership would be honorable enough to yield its members who killed 14 Marines soldiers, and even beheaded and mutilated the bodies of 10 of them, in an accidental clash in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan last July 10.

AJLPP Update 0724

July 24, 2007

State raises concession in ultimatum to MILF

07/25/2007

Manila---Making it more apparent that it is walking on eggshells on the matter, the government yesterday said while its set deadline for it had lapsed last Sunday, its doors are still open to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to surrender its members who were responsible for killing 14 Marines soldiers after an encounter in the island province of Basilan in the South two weeks ago.



Government peace panel chief Rodolfo Garcia told reporters in an interview that even after its ultimatum had passed with the Muslim secessionist group ignoring its call, the government still hopes the MNLF’s leadership would be honorable enough to yield its members who killed 14 Marines soldiers, and even beheaded and mutilated the bodies of 10 of them, in an accidental clash in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan last July 10.

Garcia said once the MILF surrenders those responsible for the atrocity, the military will halt its ongoing operations to get the perpetrators of the savage killing of the government troops in Basilan.

“Anything that will resolve the tension is welcome. The government (peace) panel is open to any possibility that would reduce the tension. I hope they (MILF) will reach us. We are not closing our doors to possible negotiations on the matter,” he said.

Garcia, however, was saddened that the MILF is being defiant while denying that its members had mutilated the bodies of the fallen soldiers.

“All options are welcome but right now the situation is still unclear...There is no communication yet from the MILF members in the joint ceasefire committee,” he said.

Garcia said a team from the government’s peace panel has been sent to Basilan to conduct an investigation on the incident and afterward submit a report to the national leadership.

“Part of their activities is to hold press conference and try to get into Basilan, the area of concern. The focus of their attention is to conduct a fact-finding mission on the beheading incident. But we have no direct contact yet with the MILF leadership. We have not talked to each other when by this time the term of reference between us (government-MILF) should have already passed through the Malaysian government as the facilitator (of the peace process),” he said.

Garcia said if the MILF does not act on its call to surrender its guilty members the government will proceed with its quest to obtain justice for the slain soldiers – even while it continues to pursue the peace talks with the rebel group.

“Punishment should be met by those responsible for the beheading and mutilation of our soldiers...Even if the peace process continues, we don’t see why we should our quest for justice,” he said.

The MILF has owned up to the attack on the Marines, saying the troops had caused it when they encroached on its territory. The group, however, denied involvement in the beheadings.

Esperon's Go Signal for the Offensive

In a press conference at the military’s General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City late Monday, Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. announced he had given the go signal for the troops deployed in Basilan to initiate the “punitive actions” that had been poised against the MILF gunmen responsible for killing the 14 Marines in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan two weeks ago.

Esperon said the troops were advancing toward the positions of the MILF attackers, who were reported to be numbering around 20.

The rebels, however, may have gained more firepower after they took the firearms of the Marines they had killed.

When asked how many firearms had been taken from the Marines, Esperon told reporters, “They were many...I’ve lost count.”

When asked if troops would attack the MILF if they got in the way of the military’s pursuit operations, Esperon said: “Somehow, something must give in. I will not threaten, but our purpose here is simply to punish the perpetrators of that barbaric act.”

“If we do not punish the beheaders there would be future beheaders because they will think that beheading people is perfectly alright,” he added.

Esperon stressed that the ongoing military action against the perpetrators of the killing and beheading were not meant to avenge the death of the soldiers, but merely to uphold the majesty of the law and to protect the citizens from such atrocities.

“This is not for the soldiers. This is not to avenge the killing of the soldiers, but to uphold the very basic right of government to protect its citizens, to uphold the law,” he said. Sherwin C. Olaes, Gina Peralta-Elorde and PNA

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