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PIA Press Release
2008/08/21

PGMA orders AFP, PNP to pursue relentless operations vs rogue MILF elements

Manila (21 August) -- As fighting between the military and rogue elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) continues, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the military and police forces to "conduct full, vigorous and unrelenting" pursuit operations against the so-called lost commands of the MILF.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, in his weekly press briefing in Malacanang, said the President issued the marching order during the National Security Cluster-Cabinet Meeting held in Malacanang.

This instruction bolsters an earlier directive from the President for government forces to take back every inch of territory from these marauders at all costs, prevent their re-occupation, and to ensure that peace, order and security are restored," Ermita said.

The Executive Secretary stressed that the President will suspend military operations against rogue elements "if and only when MILF commanders Ombra Kato and Bravo, as well as other commanders with them are neutralized and their hostages released."

At the same time, the President instructed the Departments of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Health (DOH), Education (DepEd), Local Government (DILG) and Defense (DND) and other agencies to undertake relief and rehabilitation activities as well as assist the local government units concerned to bring back to normalcy the lives of the people in the affected areas soonest possible time.

The President also warned other armed groups "not to take advantage" of the volatile situation in Mindanao to sow further violence and destabilize the area.

"In such occurrences, government armed forces will not hesitate to act in a manner that is most appropriate and swift to contain these groups," Ermita quoted the President as saying.

Ermita said that the President also welcomed the call made by Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Leila de Lima for the MILF to surrender Commanders Bravo and Ombra Kato under the principle of command responsibility.

The CHR also said it will file formal complaints against the MILF leadership.

Ermita said the President supports the CHR's reminder to the government forces on the ground to be always conscious of their responsibilities, and observe strictly human rights amid the on-going hostilities.

"The President vows and is confident that with the right purpose, frame of mind, and the continuing guidance from the Almighty, we shall prevail," Ermita said.

The Press Secretary said the President was "angered and deeply frustrated by the treacherous acts" of the MILF.

The President "detests" the lack of control of the MILF leadership over their base commands, particularly in Lanao del Norte, where thousands of civilians were displaced from their communities in the wake of the MILF rampage, Ermita said.

He said the lack of "determined control" of the MILF commanders over their forces on the ground only reflects the lack of sincerity on their part to push for a successful conclusion of the peace process.

"The President, being a mother and a wife, deeply feels for our people, especially the parents who are with their suffering children in evacuation centers and in need of continuing medical intervention and food assistance, and for the grieving husbands and wives who stand helpless as they see their loved ones in extreme pain or in the throes of dealth," Ermita said.

Meanwhile, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has appointed Deputy Security Adviser Pedro Cabuay Jr. as the director general of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).

President Arroyo signed Cabuay's appointment vice Cesar Garcia last July 30, 2008.

A retired general, Cabuay was one-time head of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM). (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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