EU urges gov’t, MILF to observe stronger ceasefire coordination

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/25 October) — The European Union Delegation to the Philippines has urged the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to strengthen their coordination to avoid deadly clashes and for the International Monitoring Team (IMT) to conduct an independent probe on recent skirmishes in parts of Mindanao.

The EU Delegation made the appeal Monday on the heels of separate attacks within a week in Basilan, Zamboanga Sibugay and Lanao del Norte that left 29 soldiers dead.

Calls for an all-out war against the MILF have mounted especially with the Al Barka clash on October 18 where 19 soldiers died. The rebel group said they sustained six casualties in the same encounter.

In a statement, the EU Delegation said it welcomed the call for the IMT to conduct an independent investigation on the incidents.

“Such an investigation would help the parties to determine whether there have been violations of the ceasefire agreement and violations of the international law and human rights,” the group said.

Furthermore, the EU Delegation appealed to the parties to strengthen coordination through the Joint Coordinating Committee for the Cessation of Hostilities.

The EU, a member of the IMT on rehabilitation and development, will continue to support peaceful efforts to achieve long-lasting peace in Mindanao, the delegation assured.

The group also lauded President Benigno C. Aquino III for reaffirming his commitment to achieve peace in Mindanao through a political settlement.

For the MILF, the EU delegation urged it to condemn the use of violence, at the same time hoping that the parties in the conflict will maintain an unwavering commitment to the ceasefire and the peace process.

Aquino on Monday rejected calls for an all-out war against the MILF.

“We will not pursue all-out war; we will instead pursue all-out justice. All-out war is indiscriminate and borne out of anger. All-out justice is sober and fair; it is based on the rule of law, and leads to lasting peace,” the President said.

“Let me remind everyone that there are those who will try to use this incident to gain political leverage and further agitate the public. Rash decisions fueled by a thirst for vengeance can only serve to dishonor the memory of the 19 brave souls who died last week, and the many others lost in our efforts to win the peace,” Aquino said.

“I urge our people to keep their eye on our long-term goals. May naalala po ba tayong magandang desisyong nagawa habang mainit ang atin pong ulo? Buhay po ang nakasalalay ditto,” (Can we recall a good decision we have made in the midst of passion? Lives are at stake here) he added. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)

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