MILF denies coddling Maguindanao massacre men

By Lora Mae Andong, ABS-CBN News Central Mindanao

Posted at Nov 21 2012 06:07 PM | Updated as of Nov 22 2012 04:18 AM

MILF willing to help arrest suspects

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - A Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) official is adamant in saying they are not coddling Maguindanao massacre suspects.

MILF Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces spokesman Von Al haq told ABS-CBN News that a memorandum was issued by Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces chief of staff Sammy Al-Mansoor ordering all ground commanders not to allow criminals inside the camps nor coddle or protect them.

"May memorandum yung chief of staff na huwag makihalubilo sa mga massacre suspects, huwag silang i-coddle at papasukin, how much more yung protektahan pa sila?" Al haq said.

The official also said there is no truth to the news that massacre suspects have joined the MILF.

He said the MILF is willing to help government troops run after the suspects. He said, however, that it should be done correctly and in accordance with the peace talks mechanisms such as the Coordinating Committees in the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and Adhoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG).

Police authorities said they are having a hard time running after the remaining suspects in the massacre.

Task Force Maguindanao commander Keith Singian earlier said they had received reports that some at-large suspects “sought refuge in MILF areas.”

He said, however, that they continue to validate information obtained by their trackers that these massacre suspects have joined the MILF, which is in the thick of discussions with the government for a peace pact.

“This is information that needs to be validated.”

PH bombs

Meanwhile, the MILF also approved the European Union's (EU) plan to clear unexploded bombs in the southern Philippines.

Recently, the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action signed a contract to implement the $700,000 project, which came right after the signing of the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement.

Al haq said this should be done by foreign experts. He said there is a need to educate residents, prepare for the unearthing of these bombs and ensure the safety of the people.

He believes there are still a handful of bombs in the vast lands of Mindanao, especially near Camp Abubakar in Barira, Maguindanao.

There have been cases in the past when farmers were killed after accidentally triggering them during farming.