MILF seizes ex-vice mayor, 10 others in Lanao

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 08 2013 06:31 PM | Updated as of Dec 09 2013 02:31 AM

MANILA – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) seized 11 suspected criminals in the town of Balo-i in Lanao del Norte on Thursday night.

Bangsamoro Development Agency director James Macaraya said it was MILF chieftain Abdulrahman Macapaar, also known as "Commander Bravo," who ordered the capture of former Balo-i Vice Mayor Abdullah Abas, former barangay chairman Salongga Pakuti, Hadji Daud, Cadayunan barangay chairman Atoy Arumpac, Bulawan Cotongan, Abdullah Arumpac, Pani Makel, Colo Lupe, Afghay Moliya and one alias "Bulalai."

The MILF released one of the suspects, Jay Sacal, a Suwertres operator.

Sacal said he was released because, as a Christian, he can’t be tried in under the Shariah court.

Macaraya said residents of Balo-i wanted the arrest of the suspects who were allegedly involved in robbery, kidnapping, illegal gambling, drug trafficking and murder.

Three suspects were brought to an MILF camp in Wato Balindong, Lanao del Sur, while others were released after paying a certain amount of fine.

Balo-i municipal administrator Elias Ali said that while they are not against the MILF in enforcing its own laws, the group should still coordinate with the local government about its operations, so that the civilians will not be scared.

Meanwhile, government senior military adviser Major General Leo Cresente Ferrer asked the MILF to follow the rule of law and strictly adhere to the ceasefire agreement while the peace process is still ongoing.

"We ask the MILF leadership to rein in their forces in the spirit of the positive strides of the peace process both sides [government and MILF] have steadfastly worked on for so many years. A fruitful conclusion would benefit not just the Bangsamoro people but the rest of the people in Mindanao," he said in a press release from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPPAP).

The statement cited a military report from the ground that said MILF members under Abdul Macalunto of the 102nd Base Command led the group in the operation in Balo-i.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles earlier appealed to the MILF to respect the ceasefire, after MILF members abducted and later freed the police chief of Marawi City, Supt. Christopher Panapan.

"At this point in time when we are in the last stage of the negotiations towards the completion of a comprehensive agreement, the MILF must be able to prove that they have control over their forces, so that together we can protect our communities and achieve the much deserved peace and development in the region," Deles said after the Marawi incident was resolved peacefully.

As of Saturday, the government and the MILF peace panels are still locked on the negotiation on the annexes about power sharing and normalization in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The two sides earlier this year signed the Annexes on transitional arrangement and modalities, revenue generation and wealth Sharing. -- with reports from Roxanne Arevalo, ABS-CBN News Northern Mindanao