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Surrendered militants to get gov’t aid
June 1, 2019
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MILF rebels to get financial aid as SAF 44 kin demand justice

COTABATO CITY – While kin of police commandos brutally killed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF rebels and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters or BIFF in Maguindanao’s Mamasapano town continue to demand justice, the Duterte government ironically is proposing to provide P100,000 in cash to each of the 12,000 MILF guerrillas as a gesture of goodwill and part of the peace process.

Families of those who died demanded that rebel leader Murad Ebrahim, now Chief Minister of the Muslim autonomous region, to surrender those behind the gruesome murders.

The commandos, members of the Special Action Force or SAF, were sent on a clandestine mission deep inside MILF territory in Tukanalipao village on January 25, 2015 to capture Malaysian bomber Zulkifli bin Hir.

But Zulkifli was eventually killed and commandos cut off his finger for DNA analysis. The elite group was on its way to re-join more than 300 SAF commandos when MILF forces aided by BIFF militants attacked them and sparking daylong clashes.

At least 18 MILF and five BIFF militants were killed in fierce fighting the Aquino government originally claimed was a mis-encounter. Barely a month after the fighting, the MILF, which signed an interim peace deal with Manila in 2014, surrendered at least 16 automatic weapons it took from slain police commandos.

Security officials inspect weapons of police commandos surrendered by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on February 18, 2015 in Maguindanao province. MILF rebels took the weapons from members of the Special Action Force they killed in fierce clashes in Mamasapano town on January 25, 2015. (Mindanao Examiner File Photo – Mark Navales)

The surrender of the weapons further bolstered reports by lawmakers and human rights groups that MILF rebels had finished off wounded commandos and collected their guns, among others. The weapons were handed over to the police, but SAF sources claimed the weapons had been tampered and that many of its parts were either taken out or replaced with defective mechanism.

Because of the killings, lawmakers shelved the Bangasamoro Basic Law (BBL) until investigations into the deadly clashes between SAF and MILF is completed. The BBL was eventually passed in the current administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, but families of the slain commandos were still crying out for justice.

The MILF said it will not surrender those involved in the slayings. According to reports, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez said the proposed financial aid will cover MILF fighters who will surrender their weapons as part of the decommissioning process, although there is no provision in the peace deal that the government will pay for guns collected from the rebel group.

The funds, the reports claimed, will come from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity which Galvez heads. About P1.2 billion is needed to pay off the MILF members who will also be provided with livelihood skills training to help them integrate into mainstream society. (Mindanao Examiner)

 

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