Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Involving UN in Mindanao will only ‘worsen’ problem --MILF

Involving the United Nations (UN) in the Mindanao problem, as the government seeks to do, will only worsen the situation in the southern Philippines, an official of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said Wednesday.

“Palagay ko hindi magandang move yun. Lalong magiging complicated ang pag-resolve sa problem pag ginawa ‘yun [I don’t think that would be a good move. Resolving the problem can only complicate the problem further if they do that],” Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman for political affairs, said reacting to Malacañang’s statement Tuesday that it would ask the UN to declare as terrorists three rebel commanders accused of leading attacks on civilian communities in Central Mindanao last month.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, who announced the government plan, said a favorable decision by the UN will pave the way for the inclusion of MILF commanders Ameril Ombra Kato, Abdullah Macapaar alias Bravo, and Aleem Sulaiman Pangalian in the Philippines' own terrorist listing under the Human Security Act of 2007.

But Jaafar said getting the UN involved will only “worsen” the situation as he stressed that the “best [way] is to resolve the problem within the confines of the mechanisms of the peace talks” between the MILF and government as well as the framework of an existing ceasefire agreement.

At the same time, Jaafar said the three wanted MILF commanders are not terrorists.

“I don’t think they are terrorists, you know, if we go by the definition of terrorist,” Jaafar said.

But asked how he would describe the three, Jaafar replied: “I do not need to answer that.”

In a separate interview, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said they cannot prevent the government from seeking the assistance of the UN. Nevertheless, he said the MILF hopes the UN “is really fair and square” and give the rebels a chance to defend themselves.

Iqbal also said the government and its security forces, whom he accused of “indiscriminately” burning houses and terrorizing and killing civilians in conflict-affected provinces of Mindanao, are the “terrorists.”

“Ano ba ang sinyas ng terrorist? Ang sinyas ng terrorist ay tinatakot ang civilian, sinusunong yung mga bahay nila, binobomba sila, etcetera…Kung terorista ang mga [MILF] commanders, mas terorista ang gobyerno ng Pilipinas [What is the sign of the terrorist? The sign of the terrorist is terrorizing civilians, burning their homes, bombing them, etc…If the MILF commanders are terrorists, the government of the Philippine is a worse terrorist],” Iqbal said.

Iqbal added that the MILF is compiling reports on alleged atrocities by government troops but need to study when the best time will be to present these to the UN.

‘Well, we will see when the best time is because it is hard for us since the MILF is not a state actor, not like the Philippines, they can reach out to the United Nations anytime they wish because the Philippines is a member-state,” Iqbal said.

(By Katherine Evangelista; INQ.net)

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