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MILF open to civic aid for trapped civilians

Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Alhaj Murad Ebrahim on Monday night welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte's suggestion for the MILF to help civilians trapped in areas of Marawi City where sporadic fighting continues.

After a meeting between Murad and other MILF leaders and Dutere on Thursday, both sides agreed to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Marawi City.

"Modalities of cooperation would be established between the government of the Philippines and MILF," the two sides said in a joint statement.

During the meeting, Duterte and Murad agreed to use peace mechanisms such as the Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCHs) "for planning and implementing the ways on how to immediately and safely extend the humanitarian assistance."

Duterte also assured the MILF leaders "that the martial law declaration is not against the MILF, MNLF or NPA but to quell the rebellion of the Maute group and other ISIS-inspired terrorists."

The President also discussed the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and urged the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to speed up its drafting of the law.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año, administrator of martial law, was also present at the meeting, along with peace panel chairwoman Irene Santiago and several military commanders and Cabinet officials.

Ebrahim was accompanied by first vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar, BIAF chief of staff Sammy Al-Mansour, peace implementing panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal, Supreme Shari'ah Court head Ustadz Khalifa Nando and AHJAG chairman Abdul Dataya.

Moro National Liberation Front fighters, meanwhile, were on standby and waiting for word from the government to help neutralize Maute group members, MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza said.

On Monday, Duterte accepted the offer of MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari to help fight the Maute extremists.

Misuari has suggested the formation of about 500 to 700 fighters under the command of MNLF officers to support government troops waging war against the terrorist group in Marawi.

Cerveza said there must be a protocol first before the MNLF can fight alongside the Armed Forces of the Philippines. In the absence of such a protocol that would spell out the parameters of the cooperation, the MNLF cannot act unilaterally, he added.

[Source: By John Paolo Bencito and Francisco Tuyay, Manila Standard, Manila, 31May17]

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small logoThis document has been published on 31May17 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.