Dureza to MNLF: ‘Deal with Malik’
Manila (17 April) -- The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) on Monday acknowledged the call of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) for a ceasefire between government forces and fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front in Sulu.
However, Secretary Jesus Dureza of the OPAPP, called on the MNLF to deal with Ustadz Habier Malik, the rebel commander embroiled in the hostilities.
“We call on the leadership of [the MNLF] to take appropriate steps and accordingly deal with the criminal and violent acts perpetrated by one of its commanders, Ustadz Habier Malik,” Dureza said in a statement.
“Unless decisively addressed by the MNLF leadership, this latest incident will pose…an additional challenge in our peace engagement with the MNLF, with whom we signed a peace agreement in 1996,” he added.
Dureza clarified that the government troops are battling only Malik’s men, not the entire MNLF.
“The military operations are not against the MNLF organization. It is a limited military action against an MNLF rogue commander who staged an unprovoked attack on Panamao [town] resulting in death and injuries of civilians and damage to properties,” he said.
Malik’s group was accused of firing mortars at government positions in Panamao over the weekend, killing at least two soldiers and a boy and wounding several others.
Dureza said the government continues to adhere to its pronounced policy of seeking peaceful resolution to address armed conflicts.
Dureza also asked the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to “calibrate its actions and put a quick end to its efforts.”
He said AFP actions must consider the civilians who are affected by the clash with Malik’s men.
The OPAPP official also noted the “sobriety” shown by most MNLF leaders and members who disagreed with Malik’s actions.
He said the government will foster closer coordination between the AFP and the MNLF in joint efforts against terrorism and lawlessness, especially in Sulu. (PIA-MMIO) [top]