Deadline all the time

breaking news stories, photos, and video

MILF has 24 hours to leave ‘occupied’ North Cotabato areas

leave a comment »

By Thea Alberto, Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 10:40:00 08/07/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 3) The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has “24 hours” to leave towns it has “forcibly” occupied in North Cotabato province or face police and military action, authorities warned.

“We are giving individuals 24 hours to vacate otherwise they will forcibly be separated from the area,” said Puno in a press conference in at the national police headquarters in Camp Crame Thursday.

Puno added that the military and police would be “authorized to undertake action” if the deadline would not be met.

Puno said some 800 members of the MILF had reportedly “forcibly” occupied several towns, including Aleosan in North Cotabato.

They were allegedly carrying out atrocities in the area, including the burning of homes.

Puno said at least 1,500 families in the towns of Aleosan, Libungan and Midsayap have been affected by the violence. MILF attacks have also been also reported in the towns of Pigkawayan and Northern Kabuntalan.

He clarified the deadline was not a declaration of war but a “declaration of the enforcement of the rule of law.”

Puno said they were forced to issue the deadline after a week of futile negotiations with the rebels. But he said they would continue talking to local government officials in the area and explain the ongoing peace initiatives of the government.

He added that he has ordered PNP Director General Avelino Razon to deploy at least three battalions or 900 policemen.

But Puno also acknowledged that they also had a problem with local armed groups, citing reports that 400 members of civilian volunteer organizations (CVOs) were bearing firearms and moving around the occupied villages.

Civilians are only allowed to carry firearms when approved by Razon. “There is no deadline for the prohibition on the unauthorized carrying of firearms, because that is against the law,” Puno said.

“It behooves on the MILF to do something to act on the situation because this is a litmus test on its good faith,” Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said, adding, “We cannot wait longer than a reasonable 24-hour period.

Teodoro said Military Chief General Alexander Yano was in Cotabato province to brief commanders on the government’s action.

“We are announcing these operations to stabilize the situation and put back the rightful owners of those lands,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said.

Esperon said the government action was “not a declaration of war,” and would unlikely affect the peace process.

“This is not a declaration of war, this is a normal enforcement of the rule of law,” Esperon said.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Advertisements

Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-08-07T15:36:09+00:00UTC08bUTCThu, 07 Aug 2008 15:36:09 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm08

Posted in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: