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Who is afraid of Kato?

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The peace negotiations between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government appeared to make a slow grind upon its resumption although there are positive indicators the two panels are moving towards some settlements of contentious issues.

If there is a perceptible threat to the talks it is Ameril Umbra Kato who have organized the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and blamed the MILF and the government “for not involving him in the peace talks and the ceasefire agreement”.  Kato organized a motley group of warriors of MILF combatants and bodyguards of former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan who is facing multiple murder charges for the mass slaughter of journalists, kin of his perceived political adversaries and motorists.

While Kato is insisting that no less than an independence is acceptable to him, the fact is, he is a fugitive of the law having committed carnage of innocent civilians when the issue of a proposed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain was questioned before the Supreme Court.

No wonder, Kato will never ceased to go on rampage and pillage communities. He remains belligerent and does not hold his tongue in saying that the government's peace initiatives are insincere and only meant to cause further division amongst Muslims.  While mouthing conciliatory to Christians he warns that if they blocked by anyone from achieving our purpose, which is an independent Islamic State, then there will really be a war.”

Commander Kato has some 200 armed men who like him seek to pursue the independence agenda which the MILF have already dropped. His struggle moreover took a different turn when Ampatuan’s wanted private army joined his force. The marriage of the two forces does not augur well for the MILF. Until this splinter is not resolved, the government and the MILF may ink a peace agreement but the government will continue dealing with the armed men of Kato. That should not really be a problem provided the MILF will side with the government in dealing with Kato’s renegade forces. In Maguindanao where these forces had been roaming around, both Muslims and Christian communities have gone weary and mad over the continued harassments of these elements. Kato can continue rattling but sooner than he expects he and his men will find themselves isolated. Once the MILF and the government come to terms, Kato and his men will be deprived of sanctuary.

By Menardo Wenceslao




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