As charges loom, MILF to invoke ceasefire agreement

By Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Apr 08 2015 08:35 PM | Updated as of Apr 09 2015 04:35 AM

MANILA – Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said the Moro group will invoke the ceasefire agreement once the Department of Justice (DOJ) finds probable cause to charge its men over the Mamasapano clash.

Appearing for the first time at the House hearing on Mamasapano clash, Iqbal acknowledged that the DOJ is now readying criminal charges against the men who killed the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25.

''The trail of the statement of the secretary of justice is leading towards that direction. We will invoke the ceasefire agreement. Whatever the ceasefire agreement says then we will have to follow that,'' Iqbal said.

''We signed it with honor and with the intention that we will abide by it."

Asked to interpret Iqbal's declaration, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer said following the ceasefire agreement would mean the prosecution of the possible MILF respondents for violation of international humanitarian law (IHL).

DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima earlier in the hearing said the DOJ may use both the IHL approach and the common crimes approach.

Using the common crimes approach would mean that the respondents will be prosecuted under the Revised Penal Code.

Under the IHL approach, the respondents would be recognized as non-state actors in a non-international armed conflict and be prosecuted for violations of the IHL.

Ferrer said all the ceasefire violations committed during the Mamasapano clash refer to the elements of the IHL. She said the Philippines adopted the IHL through Republic Act 9851.

De Lima earlier explained that MILF elements charged under IHL would qualify for amnesty, which she said is part of the transitional justice component of the peace process.

In its own report on the Mamasapano clash, the MILF said it may have committed a failure in intelligence when terrorists Marwan and Usman – the subjects of the January 25 raid - managed to find haven in an area near an MILF stronghold. However, citing the ceasefire guidelines, it insists that only the MILF can discipline its erring men.

The MILF maintains that the SAF troopers violated the ceasefire when it failed to coordinate the operation with the Moro group and the ceasefire bodies.