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MILF seeks justice for 18 fighters, 5 civilians killed in Mamasapano clash

/ 05:30 PM March 02, 2015
 Mohagher Iqbal, Chief Negotiator INQUIRER PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA


Mohagher Iqbal, Chief Negotiator INQUIRER PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Sunday said it also wanted justice for its 18 fighters, as well as for five civilians, killed in the Mamasapano clash with members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) last Jan. 25.

MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, in a statement, said justice should also be served the families of the 18 MILF combatants and five civilians slain during the encounter and not only government troopers.

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“Seeking justice should not be confined on the (fate of the) SAF 44, but should be extended to also include the orphans and widows of the 18 MILF fighters and five civilians killed in the Mamasapano incident,” Iqbal said.

It was not clear as to how the MILF wanted justice served, but Iqbal hinted that everything would hinge on the third party country facilitator Malaysia and which has been aided by international observer-countries in the peace process between the Philippine government and the MILF.

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Culpability on the part of MILF members or of the government forces, if any, would be best determined in an international forum where the MILF would be treated as a “non-state actor,” Iqbal said.

He noted that during the third day of the Senate hearing on the Mamasapano tragedy last month, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago raised the issue of the UN International Law on Belligerency by asking Justice Secretary Leila de Lima if the law could be applied to the MILF, “as a non-state actor,” instead of the national law on insurgency.

Answering on the affirmative, De Lima added that “international laws form part of the laws of the land, your honor,” recalled Iqbal.

Iqbal said he respected Santiago “as an erudite woman and an acknowledged constitutionalist.”

Iqbal’s statement also came amid reports that an Indonesian was among those killed with the MILF in Mamasapano.

On an accusation by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano that the MILF was coddling a terrorist, Iqbal said the reality was that Indonesians have been freely traveling from Davao del Sur to Indonesia and vice versa, without visa requirement, and it would be difficult to determine who among them was a foreign terrorist.

Regional trade cooperation agreements include waiver of the visa requirement on business tourists from member-countries of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

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Moreover, he said, “the Indonesians are our brothers, because they also (belong to the) Malay (race),” he said.

“We only accord them the Bangsamoro hospitality. (But) we don’t (actually monitor) their activities.”

“It has been said over again, from the time we wrote the President of the United States of America on January 20, 2003, that the MILF renounce terrorism and we have no links with the terrorist groups, like the Jemaah Islamiyah,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal stressed that the “misencounter” between the SAF and the MILF was a result of lack of proper coordination.

“What happened here (Mamasapano) was (that) there was no coordination. The last encounter between MILF and military was in 2011 in Al Barka (Basilan). Since then, there has been no encounter except until the tragic incident on Jan. 25, 2015,” Iqbal said.

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TAGS: Alan Peter Cayetano, Basit Usman, Global Nation, Justice, Malaysia, Mamasapano mission, Marwan, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Mohagher Iqbal, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, UN International Law on Belligerency, Zulkifli bin Hir
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