Palace reminds MILF: Only govt can enforce law

10:49:00 AM
MANILA, -- A day after Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Al Haj Murad maintained that their fighters involved in the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash will not be surrendered to authorities, Malacañang on Friday reminded the Moro group that only the Philippine government can enforce the law.

In a statement, deputy presidential spokesperson Undersecretary Abigail Valte said it was well within the powers of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file a case against any individual who violated laws during the bloody incident.

“Law enforcement is the sole prerogative and power of the government, and it is within the jurisdiction of the department to define the legal regime for any cases that they will file, and against whom,” Valte said.

In a separate text message, presidential peace adviser Sec. Teresita Deles also maintained that only the government had the power to enforce laws.

“It is up to the DOJ to define the legal recourse by which it will pursue any case related to the Mamasapano incident,” Deles said.

On Jan. 25, 44 police commandos were killed when an operation to arrest high-profile terrorists in Mamasapano, Maguindanao resulted in a clash involving government forces, the MILF and its breakaway group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

The clash occurred despite the peace agreement signed by the government with the MILF in March last year.

The MILF, which said it was acting on self-defense, claimed it lost 17 of its men in the encounter. Five civilians were also reportedly killed in the incident.

‘Still speculative’

On Thursday, Murad said the MILF “cannot subject our people to the criminal system in the government” because its members remained “revolutionaries.”

“We will investigate them as far as mechanism ng provision ng ceasefire agreement. Any violation of the ceasefire, then both parties will impose sanctions on their own forces,” Murad said in a report on GMA News' 24 Oras.

The MILF leader was referring to a provision in the implementing guidelines of the ceasefire agreement signed by the MILF and the Philippine government in 1997, which states that the parties would "make appropriate actions on their respective forces" who violate the pact.

Asked how this provision in the ceasefire deal will come into play in the aftermath of the Mamasapano incident, Deles said: “That’s speculative until there’s an actual case. I can’t say anything more at this point.”

Earlier this week, a Senate committee report concluded that MILF fighters "murdered and robbed" the members of Philippine National Police-Special Action Force in the Mamasapano incident.

The Senate panel also recommended to the DOJ the filing of criminal charges against MILF fighters involved in the clash.

The DOJ is still investigating the Mamasapano incident. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has yet to comment on Murad’s statement as of posting time.


Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) celebrates its 79th founding anniversary.


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