ZAMBOANGA CITY: Philippine soldiers and police commandos have joined forces with Muslim rebels in a historic pact to run after terrorists in the southern region of Mindanao where security forces are battling radical groups with links to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya.
Rebel and military commanders welcomed the local pact and said this would further strengthen cooperation between the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest Muslim rebel group now negotiating peace with Manila.
The International Monitoring Team is also supporting the joint operation, which started just recently in Maguindanao provinArmy Col. Manolito Orense, commander of the 603rd Infantry Brigade, said both the military and the MILF are supporting peace in the southern Philippines. Orense spoke to soldiers and rebels at the army headquarters in the province before the start of their deployment in Maguindanao.
The region has been the scene of recent bomb attacks that killed and wounded dozens of innocent civilians and the Aquino government blamed so-called spoilers of the peace process as behind the violence.
The MILF has said that it appears there is a conspiracy of all anti-peace and anti-MILF forces against the success of the current peace negotiation which is now in the last stretch and that the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd is not spared from this. It is as much as the target of this hate and shaming campaign as the MILF, it said.
It said the conspirators are not acting as one body, but tactically they converge to ensure that the peace process will fail because of a common interest.
“Who are these people or groups? It is very easy to know them, because some are speaking to the media openly or releasing ‘poison’ statements, others spread rumors and intrigues, and another either explode bombs or launch attacks against government military positions. Add the MNLF-Nur Misuari’s declaration of independence of the Bangsa-moro Republik and we have full array of these groups,” the MILF said in an editorial on its website.
“The MILF is not totally unaware of this development. We know that as we close-in to the finishing line of the negotiation, the oppositions will intensify their spoilage, because it is in the nature of things that the bigger the impending success the bigger the challenge or threat ranged against it. Besides, the society of man has good number of insane, purist, extremist, and sadist. They all belong to the category of sick mind and for which history had suffered deaths and destruction.
Moreover, there are those whose ego, pride or anger they cannot manage or are prisoner thereof.
Similarly, they find fulfillment in the fit of their anger or their ego is praised to the highest heaven,” it said.
The editorial said as long as the MILF, the Philippine government and majority of the people, including the international community are one and fully committed to pursue the peaceful track through to the end, “this dubious scheme will not succeed.”
“The message of peace is so powerful that those who are not swayed to its side will be swept aside into the dustbin of history. Amidst these challenges, the MILF still pursues conciliatory approach. We know that the power of logic and reason resonates so powerfully that men of understanding will respond positively. We will continue to uphold this approach or policy without losing sight of the fact that men of the other mold will always enjoy at the sufferings of others. This is a different matter,” it said.