PNoy: Peace deal still on despite Basilan clashes

Posted at 04/16/14 5:23 PM

MANILA - President Benigno Aquino III said the clashes in Basilan that left four members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) dead will not affect the comprehensive agreement on the creation of the Bangsamoro political entity.

Aquino said the MILF was informed of the operations being done against the Abu Sayyaf in the area, amid kidnappings and terrorist activities.

Gunmen from the MILF were among the 20 dead in a shootout last Friday.

Aquino stressed, however, that “they were there not as members of the MILF, but as relatives of the Abu Sayyaf men. It’s more personal, rather than political or ideological.”

He believes there are mechanisms in place to address misunderstandings between the government and the MILF, especially since a comprehensive deal has already been signed between the two.

“I believe [the incident] will not hinder the realization of the comprehensive agreement,” Aquino said.

MILF vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar earlier said the four MILF men had been “martyred.”

"We do not want this agreement to be disturbed by such unwanted incidents initiated by the military," he said, especially since the two sides are in their “honeymoon” period.