“AFP does not expect falling out with MILF”: Spokesman Padilla

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Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said yesterday, February 7 that, “The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) does not expect falling out with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) despite failure of congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)”, Philstar said in its report.

Brig. Gen. Padilla said that the mechanisms of the peace talks are working and the people have seen the benefits of the peace process.

“It seems that both sides are bending over backward and there is an assurance from the government side that the peace process will continue under the next administration,” Philstar quoted Gen.Padilla saying.

Padilla cited the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group, which is tasked to isolate and interdict criminal groups and terrorists. The mechanism allows the government and the MILF to work together to maintain peace and order.

Padilla, however, admitted that spoilers would continue to express their opposition to the peace talks.
“People have seen the positive effects of peace. There are many projects and their lives have improved. But of course, spoilers cannot be avoided,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, chief of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said his unit has not monitored any movement by the MILF after the bypassing of the proposed BBL.

“Their MILF leadership has given assurance that with or without the BBL, they will pursue peace and that’s a good sign that peace will be sustained,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan, however, maintained the military is prepared for any eventuality. The MILF has about 10,000 fighters based on military estimates.

Recently, President Aquino has ordered the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to coordinate with all concerned parties so that peace efforts would be sustained after he steps down from office. He also directed OPAPP to strengthen the peace process including the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that crafted the BBL.

MILF officials said they remain committed to peace despite the failure to enact the proposed BBL. However, they believe the non-passage of the measure showed that Filipinos are not yet ready for reconciliation.

BTC Chair Mohagher Iqbal told visiting United Nations’Under-Secretary Adama Dieng in a meeting on Thursday, February 5 that the MILF is “fully committed to pursue the path of peace and would continue its engagements” even if the 16th Congress adjourned its sessions already without passing the proposed legislation.

The MILF gave its assurance to a high-ranking official of the United Nations that it would continue its engagement with all stakeholders including the international community in spite of the non-passage of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Dieng is also Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide.