MILF is not terrorist – CCCH chair

By , on February 11, 2015


A Bangsamoro militant in training (Wikipedia photo)
A Bangsamoro militant in training (Wikipedia photo)

MANILA – Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) head Rasid Ladiasan on Tuesday said that the MILF is not a terrorist group nor associated with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Ladiasan made this clarification after Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano manifested during the Senate inquiry on the Mamasapano encounter that the MILF is coddling terrorists, including Malaysian bomb expert Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and BIFF commander Basit Usman.

”We are not terrorist, the MILF. We have been fighting terrorism in all forms through the peace process,” Ladiasan told the joint Senate committees on peace public order, peace, unification and reconciliation, and finance.

Cayetano said Marwan has been in the MILF area for the last four years and associated with Umbra Kato, commander of the BIFF who, along with the MILF elements, engaged in a deadly firefight with the Special Action Forces (SAF) commandos last Jan. 29 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

”I will stand pat on this belief. The reason we are here and the reason why we are mourning is because of the MILF and how they coddle terrorist,” Cayetano said.

”We have no association with the BIFF. They are separate (group). They don’t believe in peace process and we are committed to peace process,” Ladiasan said.

Ladiasan said the MILF will not sacrifice the more than 17 years of efforts to achieve peace in Mindanao.

”I will not allow to lose this opportunity for peace. We will act accordingly, respond accordingly,” Ladiasan said.

Ladiasan thanked Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles and Government Peace Negotiating Panel chairperson Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer for keeping their faith in the peace process.

During the hearing, Deles has requested for an executive session with the CCCH to provide more light exactly on the relationship between the MILF and the BIFF.

Cayetano objected, asking “why can’t the public know what the relationship of the MILF and the BIFF is?”

Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero intervened, saying Cayetano was just manifesting and it should be the MILF leadership that should explain on the concerns of Cayetano.

”I don’t think the MILF is here to speak and I don’t think it (executive session) is right and I will not sit down and listen to it,” Escudero said.

Escudero suggested that Ferrer should clarify with the MILF officials if they are willing to attend the Senate inquiry.

”They have said they will come. They have not said they will not come. They have also been coming to the senate and congress with respect to deliberations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” Ferrer answered.

Earlier, Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) chair Mohagher Iqbal has assured the MILF is fully committed to cooperate with the Senate in the search for truth and justice.

In his letter to Senate panel chairperson Grace Poe, Iqbal said the MILF will appear in the Senate hearing once the findings of its Special Investigation Commission (SIC) is finished.

Ferrer said the continuation of peace talks with the MILF has always been coordinated with the government’s intelligence units.

”There would be a transformation and all of those actions are happening now, that includes the decommissioning being put into place where there are targeted actions,” Ferrer said.

”They (MILF) are facing the Senate. They are just asking for a little bit more time and certainly we fully respect the Senate in saying it needs to be sooner, it needs to be now,” she said.