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A challenge to the MILF

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We have seen how hostilities can threaten regional peace and economic activities and how this can lead to the displacement of people from their work places, livelihood and homes.  We can see only the irrationality of armed conflict when every quarters. Only those who would profit from war would wish it. We find it therefore absurd that while the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government are in the negotiating table in search for peace, one inadvertent step in the temporary stay of MILF combatants by the soldiers out to arrest a criminal suspect is enough to provoke war.

We do not believe that the MILF would pull the trigger on the soldiers even if they strayed on their temporary territories. The ceasefire agreement is enforced and there are mechanisms to avail with should intrusions in their territory happens.  Unless the MILF is influenced and overwhelmed by Abu Sayyaf elements which find sanctuary in their temporary territory, we believed that the firefight would have ever ensued at all.

The Abu Sayyaf are terrorists which are being hunted anywhere they go in southeast Asia. They are the terror arm of Jemaah Islamiyah and this is why not a few of their leaders were either captured or killed in Pakistan and Indonesia. For the MILF to harbor them is actually not tenable.  The MILF would deny this but the truth screams that their temporary stay in Al Barka is in fact the sanctuary of the Abu Sayyaf.

Our Christian and Muslim brothers denounce the cry for an all-out-war. Decades of conflicts which resulted in thousands of casualties and displaced their families have taught them that the resumption of war this time will be more bloody and protracted. As in the past there will be collateral damage. This is a reality that the MILF and the government are aware of.

It behooves therefore for the Muslim Filipinos and the MILF forces to deny terrorist elements any form of sanctuary in their communities and territories. If it is true, as they have publicly manifested, that they will assist the government to run after and neutralize the Abu Sayyaf and their agents of discord then we want to see this being demonstrated. We are tired of rhetoric. Other criminal elements, among them kidnap-for-ransom syndicates and the wanted bodyguards of Andal Ampatuan have sought refuge in territories held by the MILF. If they are in earnest to run after these lawless elements then the MILF should have come to the aid of the government to bring them to justice. And they could have done this yesterday.

By Menardo Wenceslao




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