MILF? No. Lawless Elements? Yes. - Malacañang On Pursuit Operations In Mindanao

Malacañang on Tuesday reiterated that the Aquino administration would continue to run after all the lawless elements in Mindanao, and warned that those who are coddling them would be held liable.

Mindanao War
In a phone patch interview on Tuesday, Presidential Deputy Spokesperson Abigail Valte maintained that the government is determined to pursue lawless elements but not the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as “an entity.”

“We have made it clear from the start na ‘yung pagtugis sa mga lawless elements hindi po ito laban sa MILF as an entity but against the lawless elements,” Valte said.

“So dalawang bagay po ‘yan: either the MILF cooperates or stand aside and allow the law enforcers do their jobs,” the Deputy Spokesperson said.

Valte also noted that the MILF is prohibited to coddle fugitives, particularly speaking of Dan “Laksaw” Asnawi, the second highest rebel commander in Basilan province.

“It is strictly prohibited under the ceasefire agreement to provide safe havens for fugitives,” Valte said.

Asnawi is wanted for the beheading of 14 Marine soldiers in Basilan in 2007.

“There is no other recourse but to defend himself [Asnawi] in court. Kung mayroon po silang depensa, then the proper venue to ventilate that would be the courts,” Valte added.

President Benigno Aquino III ordered the pursuit operations against the lawless elements following the Basilan encounter on October 18 that left at least 19 government soldiers dead and many others wounded.