Jeddah meeting not affected by operations vs. Malik — Dureza

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 Apr) — Military operations against a Moro
National Liberation Front (MNLF) commander in Sulu will not affect the
government’s commitment in holding the tripartite meeting in Jeddah
with the MNLF and the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC),
according to the government’s peace process adviser.

Hostilities between government troops and Moro rebels in Sulu flared
up when Commander Habier Malik mortared a Marine camp in Panamao on
April 13.

But Sec. Jesus Dureza said the tripartite meeting will go on as
scheduled in July, not now as suggested by the Mindanao Peace Weavers,
coalition of various peace groups in the island, in the midst of new
hostilities in Sulu.Dureza said the Jeddah meeting is totally different from the pursuit
against Malik, which he said is a “punitive action” against the MNLF
commander.

He said troops are going after Malik for bombing a Marine camp in Panamao.

Dureza said there will be no negotiation on Malik’s case. “When he
committed a criminal act, automatically he puts himself out from the
tenets of peace,” he said.

Dureza said he cannot understand why Malik and other parties keep on
connecting their acts to the tripartite meeting.

He assured that the July meeting will push through. He said he met
with Misuari this week to initiate preparations for the meeting.

Dureza said they wanted to thresh out preliminary agreements prior to
the meeting to smoothen the process. “By the time we meet, we already
have (prior agreements),” he said.

Malik, leader of the MNLF Jabal Uhod Command, declared jihad or holy
war against the government reportedly in retaliation for the military
attack on MNLF forces.

At least 21 rebels and Marines have been reportedly killed in the
fighting, which triggered evacuations of 50,000 residents, based on
Mindanao Peace Weavers estimates.

MPW welcomed the OIC’s earlier call for an immediate ceasefire between
the military and the MNLF.

But Dureza told reporters in a press conference today they could not
accede to a ceasefire because it entails a short term implication,
noting that hostilities could erupt anew later. He said, though, that
he will push for the total halt of hostilities in Sulu.

Dureza said Armed Forces chief of staff Hermogenes Esperon ordered
today Task Force Comet chief Maj. Gen. Ruben Rafael for a
“deceleration” or downscaling of military operations in Sulu to allow
distribution of relief goods and services. He said the evacuees total
10,000 families. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)

About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

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