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MILF denies ‘incursions’ in North Cotabato

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Calls for ‘impartial probe’

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 14:14:00 08/07/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) maintains there have been “no incursions” of its forces into North Cotabato villages and sought an “impartial investigation” of accusations rebel fighters had occupied farmlands in nine villages in five towns of the province.

While MILF vice chairman Ghadzali Jaafar said they would pull out any of their fighters who are “new” to the areas where the alleged incursions have taken place, he doubted there had any forces aside from the “local MILF.”

“Yung MILF na hindi dapat ‘dun sila, yun ang aalis, kung meron [The MILF forces who are not supposed to be there, they will leave, if there are any]. But I doubt if there are [any]. The MILF forces in the area have been there before, they are local MILF,” Jaafar said in a phone interview.

“Wala naman kaming iwi-withdraw diyan [We have nothing to withdraw], that is why we want an impartial investigation, because the MILF forces they [government] are referring to, matagal na sila diyan [they have been there for a long time],” he said.

The government has given the MILF 24 hours, or until 10 a.m. Friday, to pull out rebel fighters accused of having “grabbed” farmlands in the North Cotabato villages or be “forcibly separated” from these areas.

The events in North Cotabato unfolded after the Supreme Court stopped the signing of a memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain between the government and the MILF that would expand the Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), although even before this, sporadic skirmishes had broken out between rebels and government militias in the province.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-08-07T09:11:05+00:00UTC08bUTCThu, 07 Aug 2008 09:11:05 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

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