No safe conduct pass for Misuari's men - Palace
MANILA - Malacañang will not give a safe conduct pass to Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) forces even as it sent negotiators to MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari to end the crisis in Zamboanga City.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Aquino administration is avoiding a repeat of a similar incident in the past when MNLF forces given a safe conduct pass by the government were able to escape.
"May mga nakikipag-usap. Sila po ay na-authorize ng ating Pangulo. Ang hinihingi nila Nur Misuari safe conduct pass, that was not acceptable. Pero kung mayroong kumakausap, of course, may kumakausap. Pero kung ang hinihingi ng MNLF ay ang template ng Cabatangan, siguro hindi na ho pwede 'yon," Lacierda said.
"We have sent people to talk to Nur Misuari. Obviously, Misuari was thinking of something else. He wanted a safe conduct pass. Is that something acceptable? If… you take the statements of Secretary Voltz Gazmin when he said, 'If I know the President, he will not agree to a safe conduct pass.' A crime has already happened… If they intended to do a Cabatangan template in 2001… they underestimated this administration," he added.
Lacierda was referring to the 2001 Cabatangan siege also in Zamboanga staged by Misuari's forces who took hostages but later escaped after they were given a safe conduct pass.
The spokesman said former President Fidel Ramos expressed support to the government's peace negotiations with the MILF, quoting presidential peace adviser Ging Deles.
"Former President Ramos called Ging Deles and said: 'You're doing very well. Do not get distracted by the incident in Zamboanga. Ituloy ninyo 'yung framework agreement. I support you there,'" Lacierda said.
The spokesman issued the statement following reports that Ramos criticized the Aquino administration for having multiple negotiators that lacked coordination.
Lacierda, however, took exception to Ramos' statement that the administration was remiss in implementing the 1996 peace agreement with the MNLF.
"Why don't you clean up your own mess first because you did it in the first place after we turned it over to you in a nice silver platter," Ramos was quoted by media as saying.
"Now, on the second issue about 'we handed it to you on a silver platter', I'm sure President Ramos knows that we were not the immediate successor to his administration. In fact, the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement is building on the gains of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement. So that's all that we can say," Lacierda said.