• MILF rebels storm police headquarters

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY – Moro rebels stormed a police station in Marawi City and shot one person before springing two detained members and seizing the police chief in a daring predawn raid Friday.

    About 50 heavily armed members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) stormed the police station near the coastal village of West Marinaud, shot the brother-in-law of police chief Christopher Panapan and disarmed a small number of officers.

    The rebels then freed MILF fighters Johanne Cader and Mesron Borodan who were arrested for illegal possession of firearms.

    The rebels escaped with Panapan, to the coastline about 150 meters away where two speedboats were waiting.

    The MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group currently negotiating peace with Manila the Aquino government, has confirmed the assault and said government efforts are underway to secure the safe release of the police chief.

    A rebel spokesman told The Manila Times that the MILF has repeatedly demanded the release of Cader and Borodon who were arrested despite being covered by cease-fire agreement.

    The army has demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Panapan and threatened to launch an assault to rescue the prisoner despite the truce.

    The raid occurred as MILF and Philippine negotiators resumed delayed talks in Kuala Lumpur after the two sides failed to sign any substantial agreement in September.

    It was not immediately known whether the raid or threats of military assault on MILF forces would have an effect on the peace talks, but previous skirmishes between rebels and security forces in the restive region had grounded the negotiations aimed at ending decades of bloody fighting in the South.

    Last year, the panels signed the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement which would pave the way for the Muslim homeland. Under the accord, the Bangsamoro government would take a ministerial form, where members of the legislature who would be elected by the people and in return they would elect a chief minister among themselves.

    Negotiators are still locked over how to go about the power-sharing which represents the heart of the peace negotiations since it contains the list of powers reserved for the central government, powers exclusive to the envisioned Bangsamoro government, and concurrent or shared powers between the two.

    Any delay in the peace talks would impede the working timeline of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, the body tasked to draft the Basic Law.

    AL JACINTO

     

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