Cayetano lashes out on absence of MILF leader

By , on February 11, 2015


Photo from Pia Cayetano's  official Facebook page.
Photo from Pia Cayetano’s official Facebook page.

MANILA — Senator Pia Cayetano was displeased with the absence of the leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) during the Senate inquiry of three joint committees into the Mamasapano incident.

“This is the Republic of the Philippines, not the Republic of MILF. So the timelines are set by this committee and that is why I feel that for MILF chair Murad Ebrahim to come when they deem it convenient for them is already a disrespect for this committee,” Cayetano said.

Instead, the MILF on Tuesday promised to return the firearms they have taken from the officers of the Special Action Force and appear only in a closed-door hearing.

The letter addressed to Sen. Grace Poe by MILF’s chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal was read on the second day of the hearing.

Iqbal also said that the MILF will remain a revolutionary group until the peace pact has been fully implemented.

“While we may have signed a peace agreement with the Philippine government after 18 years of intermittent war and negotiations, that peace agreement has yet to be implemented. Until the peace agreement is fully implemented, we will remain to be a revolutionary organization,” Iqbal said.

The move annoyed Cayetano, the chair of the joint Senate inquiry into Mamasapano incident.

“I have followed with dismay and frustration the response of MILF on the return of the firearms and the personal belongings [of the SAF 44]. It has taken 15 days. More than two weeks—we have buried the SAF 44 and the MILF and civilians have probably been buried as well—just to tell us that they will return government property?” Cayetano said.

She described the move as a form of the “disrespect” to the senators who are currently conducting an investigation on the  encounter which killed 44 policemen.