UPDATE 2: Govt not negotiating
with terrorists — officials


The government does not negotiate with terrorists, officials said in separate statements on Tuesday.

Malacañang turned down the alleged offer of Maute terrorists to release Fr. Chito Suganob in exchange for the freedom of Farhana and Cayamora — parents of Omar, Abdullah — known leaders of the group.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Ernesto Abella, palace spokesman, reiterated that the government would not negotiate with terrorists.

“Government policy not to negotiate with terrorists remains. Hence, the local religious leader who led talks with the terrorists last Sunday is one that was not sanctioned by the government, military and our political leaders. Any demands made inside therefore hold no basis,” Abella told reporters.

“Let us continue to remind the public that the gravity of theirs, of terrorists and their supporters’ offense is immense and they must all be held accountable for all their actions,” he added.

In a separate press conference on Tuesday, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd echoed the Palace position.

“The government never negotiates with terrorists!” said Aguirre who has just ordered the filing of rebellion charges against Farhana, former Marawi City Mayor Fahad Salic and nine others in connection with the ongoing armed conflict in Marawi City, in Lanao del Sur before the Cagayan De Oro City Regional Trial Court (RTC).

Aguirre had sent an appeal to the Supreme Court to convince the justices to grant a request by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to transfer the trial outside Mindanao and hold them in Taguig City due to security concerns.

The letter, which asked for a reconsideration of a resolution by the High Court to hold the trial of cases related to the Marawi attacks in Cagayan de Oro, is expected to be deliberated today, Tuesday, at the regular en banc session of the High Tribunal.

It was reported that some eight Muslim leaders met with Abdullah Maute, one of two brothers leading the siege in Marawi, on Sunday.

The meeting reportedly occurred when the military enforced an eight-hour ceasefire to allow residents to celebrate the Muslim feast of Eid’l-Fitr.

Maute reportedly offered to release Suganob if the government would release his parents, Farhana and Cayamora, who were arrested by the military in early June.

Terrorists abducted Suganob and several parishioners from the St. Mary’s Cathedral on May 24, a day after launching attacks against government troops who were chasing Islamic State-inspired Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.

According to the report, the Maute leader also said his group was willing to withdraw from Marawi if the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would intervene and negotiate with the government.

While the Palace turns down the Maute offer, Abella said MILF intervention in Marawi may be considered.

“All possibilities are of course being considered,” the Palace official said.


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