Inside out

Random musings in and outside the news

South Cotabato solon: ‘MILF recruiting citizen army’

Posted by Abi Kwok on August 11, 2008

As John Lennon said, “All we are saying is give peace a chaaance!” 🙂


Truce urged for humanitarian reasons

By Abigail Kwok
First Posted 13:45:00 08/11/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Moro rebels are allegedly recruiting fighters in barangay (villages) and municipalities in key areas of Mindanao, offering as much as P10,000 a month, South Cotabato Representative Darlene Antonino-Custodio said on Monday.

Although Custodio refused to identify the villages where the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has allegedly been recruiting fighters, she cited Saranggani as one of the provinces where the rebels have been sighted.

Meanwhile, Akbayan Representative Meanwhile, Akbayan Representative Rissa Hontiveros-Baraquel urged the contending forces to call a ceasefire and prevent the situation in Mindanao from turning into a “humanitarian mess.”

“The renewed fighting in North Cotabato goes to show that when the government bungles the peace negotiation it is the citizens who suffer,” Baraquel said.

At a press conference, Custodio said the problems raised by the stalled signing of the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain has only served to peace agreement between the government and the MILF only served to push back the peace and order situation in Central Mindanao.

“We have been [at] peace for over 20 years and the peace process has been mishandled. We are being victimized every now and then by small groups that threaten to bomb or occupy some areas,” Custodio said.

For her part, Baraquel, at the same press conference, said that apart from MILF recruitment, over 22,000 refugees, mostly from the towns of Pikit and Aleosan in North Cotabato, have found themselves with no place to stay because of poor conditions at evacuation centers.

“The peace process is turning into a humanitarian mess,” Baraquel said. “The imminent refugee crisis is an unacceptable cost of the government’s mismanagement of the peace process. A peace process should lead to the protection of life and property, and yet what’s happening is the opposite.”

Baraquel said the government and the MILF should resume negotiations and stop attacks on each other, especially during Monday’s elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

However, Custodio doubted if the MILF could keep its forces under control or even agree to a ceasefire.

“Can they deliver their troops, dictate to their people in the group, to stop the hostilities? I don’t think they have the moral ascendancy to actually end this,” she said.


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