• Military links MILF to Lanao abduction

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has linked the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)–which signed a peace pact with the government in Malacañang last year–to the abduction of three people in the southern Mindanao province of Lanao del Sur.

    The three victims, identified as Omainah Cuno, Jabbar Mimbala and Maisara Mangoranca, were seized last May 16 and freed to international peace observers the next day in the village of Bualan in Balindong town.

    The military tagged MILF Commander Haji Malik in the abduction.

    Military officials said the Philippine Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade has filed a protest with the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities over the abduction, a violation of a ceasefire agreement that the separatist MILF had signed with the government.

    Capt. Ben June Cerbo of the Western Mindanao Command said the MILF released the victims because of pressure exerted by the Armed Forces.

    “Pursuit operations and prior coordination with the peace mechanism of the MILF-Ad Hoc Joint Action Group were conducted by Joint Task Force ZAMPELAN (Zamboanga Peninsula-Lanao) pressuring the MILF to release and turn over the kidnap victims to the International Monitoring Team and Crisis Management Committee of Ditsaan Ramain in Lanao del Sur,” Cerbo added.

    He said they are yet to investigate the motive behind the abduction while the MILF has not issued any statement.

    The abduction took place at the height of widespread opposition by lawmakers and civilians over the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law that seeks, among others, the creation of a new Muslim autonomous region in the troubled, but mineral-rich region of Mindanao.

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