Arrested MILf official appeals for “sobriety, primacy of the peace process”

“It is necessary for us to keep our cool and let not those who want to destroy the gains of the peace talks succeed,” Baharaman Ali, a senior MILF official here, said.

Ali was arrested January 29 by elements of the 902 Provincial Mobile Group led by Police Inspector Richard Torres on the strength of a “standing warrant of arrest” for robbery and homicide issued by the local court in 2002.

Ali was arrested in Barangay Tenan, a predominantly Moro community some six kilometers from the town center, while attending to a burial of a close family friend.

Ali explained he should not have been arrested. “I should not be arrested based on that case because I had already posted a bail for it,” Ali said, adding he posted a P40,000 bail.

“The arresting group might have another reason why I was arrested,” he said.
    
Ali explained he did not resist arrest because he had nothing to fear “especially that the ceasefire agreement is still in place.”

Ali’s membership in the MILF was confirmed by the MILF’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal said.

Iqbal could not be reached for more details.

Ali was arrested two hours after two police informants were wounded in an ambush in the same barangay.

The two police informants, identified as Stephen Bayking and Danny Gamo, were riding a motorcycle when fired at by motor-riding gunmen. Bayking was seriously wounded and was evacuated to Zamboanga City while Gamo’s sustained a gunshot wound on his left arm.

“We suspected that Ali was arrested because he was believed to have been behind the ambush that happened earlier,” volunteered Rashid Bual, the village chair.

Bual, whose house was strafed by motorcycle-riding gunmen three hours after Ali’s arrest, alleged that the arresting police may have suspected Ali to have a hand in the ambush.

Bual, whose 26-year old niece and her year-old daughter were wounded in the strafing, lamented that he and his family “are victims of these malicious intrigues just because I am a Moro and Ali who is also a Moro was arrested in my barangay.”

But Senior Supt. Francisco Cristobal, the provincial police chief, claimed Ali’s arrest was done based on the old warrant of arrest pending at his office.

“When our intelligence confirmed his presence in Barangay Tenan it was then that we conducted the operation,” Cristobal said.

The police still have to determine if the .45 caliber pistol recovered from Ali was licensed or not before appropriate charges will be filed, Cristobal clarified.

“These strings of unfortunate incidents before and after my arrest should be stopped now,” the soft-spoken Ali said, adding there are forces who want the peace talks to fail.

“We should continue to respect the primacy of the peace process especially now that we have an impasse with the government,” he said.

The peace talks between the government and the MILF was stalled again last month with the MILF accusing the Philippine government of allegedly reneging on the consensus points already agreed upon in previous negotiations, by putting “constitutional process” as a requirement.

Ali’s call for sobriety was an indirect reference to the reported break-out of violence between the local police force and MILF fighters in Barangay Lakiki, Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte on January 30.

The MILF claimed it has a sizeable fighting force in Zamboanga del Norte.

Military reports said around 18 police personnel had a 30-minute gunbattle with MILF guerillas.

“The local police was apparently having its routine security patrol when they encountered an undetermined number of MILF rebels in Lakiki,” Brigadier General Jovencio Magalso said in a text message.

There was no military personnel involved in the fighting as earlier reported, Magalso clarified.

“As of now, we still have to determine if there wounded police personnel in that encounter,” Magalso said. (Antonio M. Manaytay/MindaNews contributor)

 

 

Comments

comments