Escudero puzzled why it took 7 hours for MILF to enforce ceasefire

By , on February 9, 2015


Senator Francis 'Chiz' Escudero attends the senate hearing for the Mamasapano clash. Also in the picture, Senator Grace Poe. (Facebook photo)
Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero attends the senate hearing for the Mamasapano clash. Also in the picture, Senator Grace Poe. (Facebook photo)

MANILA — Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero said on Monday he was puzzled why it took the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) about six to seven hours to order its combatants to stop firing at the elite police force despite having knowledge that these were government troopers.

Escudero made this observation after the Senate inquiry into the Jan. 25 encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that killed 44 Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) men.

During the Senate investigation, Rashid Ladiasan, head secretariat of the MILF’s Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), said they received the information about the clashes between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.

Reports, however, showed that MILF fighters stopped firing at past noon that day.

“Why did it take six to seven hours before the MILF instructed their men to stop firing? They only stopped when everyone was dead,” Escudero said.

“We have an ongoing peace talks, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front already knew that the troops they were firing at were from the government. Why didn’t they stop firing?” he pointed out.

According to Ladiasan, lack of coordination and communication constrained the MILF from immediately carrying out a ceasefire.

The senator also asked Justice Secretary Leila De Lima if the peace agreement would affect the course of seeking justice for the slain SAF troopers and hold MILF fighters accountable for the deaths of the “Fallen 44” in accordance with the law.

“Ma’am, just to clarify, correct me if I’m wrong, as a lawyer and secretary of justice, a peace agreement does not and will not change our criminal laws? The peace agreement does not grant amnesty?” Escudero asked.

De Lima replied: “The fact that there is a peace agreement does not affect the power of the state to enforce its laws.”

Escudero also recalled the incident in 2011 when 19 soldiers were killed by the MILF during clashes in Al-Barka in Basilan — an incident that he insisted should be raised in the peace talks between the government and MILF negotiators to ensure accountability.