• ‘Arrest of 4 MILF members will not affect peace talks’

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    The Philippine government on Thursday said that the ongoing peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will not be affected by the recent arrest of four of its members.

    In a statement, government peace panel head Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said that, “no opportunity will be given to those who wish to undermine the process.

    “We continue to appeal for prudence on one and all,” Ferrer said, noting that the government panel has asked the police to issue a complete report on the cases.

    The government panel, through its Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), has been furnished the copy of the protest filed by the MILF, she said.

    “We are presently reviewing the documents and the circumstances pertaining to the arrests,” Ferrer added.

    Initial reports submitted by the Philippine National Police indicate that “the law enforcement operation in Polomolok, South Cotabato on May 31 was covered by two separate search warrants against two men,” Ferrer said.

    “The search yielded several types of ammunitions and a weapon, leading to the men’s detention,” she added

    On the other hand, Ferrer cited that the arrest of another male person in Pantao Ragat, Lanao del Norte on June 8 was covered by a warrant of arrest issued on the charge of frustrated murder.

    She noted that, they are still awaiting information on the fourth case of protested arrest in Sultan Kudarat province that reportedly took place on May 28.

    “The Ceasefire Guidelines prohibit “unjustified arrests”—not arrests per se,” Ferrer said.

    “In this regard, we are looking into the basis for the arrests, the procedures undertaken by the police in the conduct of these specific law enforcement operations, as well as the current situation of those who have been arrested,” she added
    Meanwhile, Ferrer assured the families of those arrested that “government will observe due process and all the attendant rights of the detained.”

    “The GPH-CCCH will be issuing a reply to its counterpart MILF-CCCH as soon as the government completes its internal inquiry,” she said

    “As in other cases of alleged violations of the ceasefire committed by either side, the process set out in the Ceasefire Guidelines shall apply,” Ferred added.

    The MILF earlier warned the government that the recent arrest could torpedo the ongoing peace talks.

    The peace talks are aimed at creating an autonomous region for the Muslim minority in Mindanao, the southern third of the mainly Catholic nation of 100 million.

    Although no schedule has been set for the next round of talks, the government and the MILF have started exchanging notes on the final details of the annexes that will complement the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro—a mechanism agreed upon by both parties to settle the remaining issues leading to a final peace pact.

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