Mindanao governors: All-out war must not be on the menu

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MINDANAO local executives spurned calls for an all-out offensive against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) following the deadly clash between police and the Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao January 25.

The incident has resulted in the death of 44 members of Philippine National Police-Special Action Force, at least seven civilians, and a dozen MILF fighters.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman said waging war will only breed more wars in Mindanao.

“Mindanao and its people have had enough of wars,” said Hataman. “We are tired of wars. We worked hard for Mindanao to have peace and the government and the MILF, with the help of various organizations and the people of Mindanao, were successful in making peace possible. If we listen to these people who are calling out for war, and they are not even from Mindanao, all of the gains of peace will be put to waste.”

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza said people calling for an all-out war against the MILF must be awakened to the truth that war is never the solution.

Mendoza said the death of the 44 SAF members was tragic — and even painful for her. For four months, some of the 44 who died in Mamasapano trained in North Cotabato and she met them for several occasions, even attending their graduation.

But in the middle of angry calls for the government to abandon the gains of the peace process and wage an all-out offensive against the rebels, Mendoza said there is a need for calm and sobriety.

“We need to be calm because we know that war will never solve the problem,” she said. “People calling for war against the MILF are actually unaware of how ugly war is. We have experienced it before, we know what war is and how it impacts tremendously on people, especially the civilians. This is why I do not support these calls for an all-out war.”

Hataman, however, backs calls for the conduct of an investigation to ferret out the truth behind the Mamapasano incident.

“There has to be justice for all the victims,” said Hataman. “I stand by my principle that peace is something that we can only have if there is justice. And at the same time, there can be no justice without truth. We need to find out what really happened on that fateful January 25 day in Mamasapano.”

Because of the incident, at least 1,500 individuals abandoned their homes in Barangay Tukanalipao in fear.

The number is yet another entry in the long list of internally-displaced persons in Mindanao because of armed conflict. | JMT, NewsDesk

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