Inside out

Random musings in and outside the news

Puno: Kato, Bravo ‘controlling’ MILF leadership

Posted by Abi Kwok on September 9, 2008

By Abigail Kwok
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:55:00 09/09/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Calling it a case of the “tail wagging the dog,” Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno on Tuesday claimed three wanted commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are allegedly “controlling” the secessionist organization’s central committee.

In a chance interview with reporters, Puno criticized the rejection by MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal Monday of government’s offer to give the rebels the P25-million bounty for Ameril Ombra Kato, Abdullah Macapaar alias Commander Bravo, and Aleem Sulayman Pangalian if they give up the three.

Kato, Macapaar and Pangalian and the fighters they lead are accused of attacking civilian communities in North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte last month and are the target of military offensives that the government says will continue through the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The three are facing multiple criminal charges and warrants have been issued for their arrest. The government has put up a reward of P10 million each for Kato and Macapaar and P5 million for Pangalian.

“Yung tatlo na yun [Thos three], they are [in the minority] but it looks like it’s the tail wagging the dog. Mukhang yung mga criminal ng MILF ang kumocontrol dun sa mga [It looks like the criminals in the MILF are the ones controlling the] MILF central committee,” Puno said.

Iqbal said surrendering Macapaar, Kato, and Pangalian in exchange for the bounty would be “unethical.”

But Puno said this meant the MILF central committee is being “bullied” by the three renegade leaders.

“They claim they do not condone [the three commanders] but they shelter them anyway. They don’t want to surrender [the three] but know where they are because they talk to each other. And then they say we are not interested in the development of their place. No, we will help but they should surrender [the three] to end the hostilities,” Puno said.

He said that once the rebels surrender the three leaders, police and military operations will automatically cease in the region.

“The minute the MILF surrenders those three, police operations will stop, they will get the reward, and we can start development of the place, at least help our countrymen there,” he said.

Still Puno said he believes there are “good commanders” in the MILF who want peace in Mindanao.

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