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MILF mums on proposed ties with NDF

August 18, 2008
  
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is tight-lipped on the offer of Jose Maria Sison for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to join forces and confront the Philippine government as a “common enemy”.

In an interview with media yesterday, Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the MILF committee on information and the Front’s chief peace negotiator, said he has no authority to comment on the matter.
 
“This is an issue that I cannot comment, he said.
 
In the past, the MILF was reported to have entered into a tactical cooperation with the NDFP on the ground, which gave the two liberation organizations at least two advantages:
 
1. Allows combatants of each party to pass by areas controlled by the other;

2. Prevents conflicts where the two parties have common presence such as in various areas in Davao, Zamboanga, and South Cotabato.
 
On Friday, Sison urged the MILF to join forces with the CPP’s National Democratic Front of the Philippines, saying they have a common enemy in the Arroyo government.

 

Sison also said the MILF should start fighting the government, which he said used the peace process as its latest vehicle to push for Charter change.

August 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

10 killed, 20 wounded in Lanao ambush

 

Auggust 18, 2008 

A convoy of the Philippine Army’s  501st Battalion of the Tabak Division (1st Infantry Division)  was ambushed by still unidentified armed men at around 8 am Sunday, August 17, at Barangay Ilian, Municipality  of Molundo, Lanao del Sur.  The convoy consisted of four (4) 6X6 Army trucks and one (1) ‘townis’ loaded with troops as well as two (2) Tamaraw FX vans carrying government militias belonging to CVOs.

 

A convoy of the Philippine Army’s  501st Battalion of the Tabak Division (1st Infantry Division)  was ambushed by still unidentified armed men at around 8 am Sunday, August 17, at Barangay Ilian, Municipality  of Molundo, Lanao del Sur.  The convoy consisted of four (4) 6X6 Army trucks and one (1) ‘townis’ loaded with troops as well as two (2) Tamaraw FX vans carrying government militias belonging to CVOs.

 

The battle between the government forces and the ambushers lasted for more than three hours. One of the army trucks carrying soldiers was totally damaged in the ambush. Its occupants were either killed or seriously wounded.


It was confirmed that initially seven (7) soldiers and three (3) CVOs were killed on the spot. More than twenty (20) have been seriously wounded. The wounded casualties were brought to Amai Pakpak Provincial Hospital in Marawi City while five of the more serious cases were brought to hospitals in Iligan City. Others were airlifted by Army choppers for unknown destination. It cannot be determined whether these were wounded or already dead. Soldiers sent to secure the hospital in Marawi City said they are still waiting for more than 10 wounded soldiers who are still unaccounted for after the ambush.


The military is now conducting clearing operations in the area and are trying to locate or retrieve what is believed to be more of the wounded or dead casualties left on the battlefield. Helicopter gunships are visibly seen hovering around the scene of the ambuscade.


The still unidentified armed group responsible for the ambuscade had swiftly withdrawn from the area after the three-hour gun battle. Some local people say these are illegal loggers who mistook the deployment of government troops as an operation against illegal logging activities.

Meanwhile, the MILF in Ranao has not claimed responsibility for the ambuscade. Despite the rising tension on the ground caused by the aborted signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in Kuala Lumpur last August 5, the MILF has so far kept the tempers of the fighting men in the field under control. The fighting in North Cotabato is an exception because that was a matter of self-defense in the face of the policy of North Cotabato officials to eject Moro inhabitants of the province from their ancestral lands.

August 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No Truth, Report that a Catholic Priest was held hostage in the Kolambogan Siege

 

August 18, 2008


Iligan City – There is no truth to an earlier report over the radio and which was circulated in text messages that a Catholic priest, Fr. Reggie Quijano, was held hostage by the armed group believed to be elements of the MILF that entered the municipality of Kolambogan, Lanao del Norte, at early morning of this day.

 

Fr. Quijano is the parish priest of Kolambogan and head of Pakigdait Incorporated, an NGO based in Lanao del Norte that is engaged in peace-building at the grass-roots level.


According to the report, which proved to be utterly false and apparently concocted by malicious elements out to foment a religious conflict between Muslims and Christians in the province, Fr. Quijano and a group of priests were held hostage by MILF elements when the latter captured and took over the municipal hall of Kolambogan. The Church where Fr. Quijano holds services is near the municipal hall.

 

There was even a report that Fr. Quijano was killed by his alleged captors or was caught in crossfire.

 

All of these reports, however, were proven to be baseless rumors when Fr. Quijano was interviewed live on Radio DZRH this morning. Fr. Quijano belied all the reports that said he and several other priests were made hostage by the MILF.

 

Meanwhile, another group of priests, this time from a Protestant denomination, the Philippine Independent Church, also denied a similar report that they were held captive by the MILF during the same incident. Interviewed over the same DZRH, the spokesman of the group explained that they sought cover from the fierce firefight between the MILF and government troops but there was no truth that they were taken hostage as alleged earlier by some media men who were out to sensationalize the whole incident by creating false reports.

 

The siege on and subsequent capture of Kauswagan and Kolambogan by guerillas believed to be MILF elements paralyzed all forms of activity and traffic along the Iligan-Pagadian-Zamboanga- Ozamis national highway.

 

The attack came in the heels of the controversy surrounding the aborted signing of the MILF-GRP Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last August 5.

The MOA-AD was used by Filipino politicians, media, big business interests, some elements of the Church, and Mindanao settlers to viciously attack the peace negotiation, whip up an anti-Moro hysteria, and demonize anew the MILF, the Bangsamoro people, Islam, as well as members of the international community such as Malaysia and the United States of America for having been active in the peace process to resolve the conflict in Mindanao on the basis of justice.

 

The MILF leadership meantime revealed that it did not sanction nor had prior knowledge of the attacks on government forces and installations in Lanao del Norte. It attributes such attacks on the initiatives of ground commanders, assuming that they were responsible for these attacks, whose extreme frustration at the turn of events in the peace negotiation has impelled them to make tactical decisions at their level of commands.

August 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment