MILF won’t avoid legal process in Mamasapano clash

Muslim groups hold a protest to urge the passage of the Bangsamoro law at the Philippine Senate, Wednesday. The groups asked the senators to respect the peace agreements between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).(MNS photo)

Muslim groups hold a protest to urge the passage of the Bangsamoro law at the Philippine Senate, Wednesday. The groups asked the senators to respect the peace agreements between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front will not avoid the legal process once complaints are filed against those responsible for the Mamasapano clash that left over 60 people dead, including 44 police commandos and 17 MILF fighters.

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal issued this assurance at the sidelines of the forum organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) in Ortigas Friday.

“On an individual basis, we will not,” Iqbal said, adding that the MILF will not prevent their members from hiring lawyers to defend themselves.

On Thursday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said about 26 MILF fighters, as well as members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and private armed groups may be charged for the Mamasapano encounter.

But Iqbal said the legal process should be within the peace process mechanism between the MILF and the government.

The MILF signed a peace agreement last year ending the decades-old Moro insurgency in Mindanao.

“If there’s a violation on either side; if it’s on the government side, the government will take charge. If it’s the MILF, then the MILF will take charge of that,” he said.

The filing of complaints is expected next week and is the first step to a preliminary investigation into who should be held accountable for the deadly encounter.

Once probable cause is established, the information will be filed in court.

Both the MILF and the government are saying that if there’s any liability for the encounter, it will be limited to certain individuals.

“Wala namang nagsasabi that there was an organizational decision (during the encounter). The rule of law must be respected and pushed, pero  sinabi rin ni Presidente na it must be in such a way that no one misunderstands,” Presidential Peace Adviser Sec. Ging Deles said. (MNS)

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