MILF concerned about victims of AFP-BIFF fighting

By Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2014 07:22 PM | Updated as of Feb 07 2014 03:22 AM

MANILA - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has expressed concern over civilians affected by recent incursions between the soldiers of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and fighters of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao province.

MILF's Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal relayed the concern Thursday in a courtesy call made by the members of Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) on Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senator TG Guingona, who chairs the Senate Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unification.

The leaders discussed the crafting of the Basic Law which is one of the elements of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

At the 43rd Formal Exploratory Talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and MILF held at the last week of January 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Iqbal reported that the BTC is busy preparing the draft of the Basic Law, which they expect to be submitted to Malacanang by April. It will then be sent by the President to Congress by May of this year.

Iqbal expressed confidence that the peace process will go unhampered despite the violence that has erupted in Maguindanao between government forces and BIFF, Muslim fighters who bolted from the leadership of the MILF. But Iqbal is not so concerned about the the BIFF-government clashes but on impact of the conflict.

"What we are more concerned now is the condition of civilians who may be affected by the violence" said Iqbal.

Secretary Ging Deles, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, said the peace process will not be affected by the incursions on the ground between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the BIFF.

"They're not looking at conducting hostilities and AFP is cognizant of the peace process," said Deles.