18 April 2015

Peace process, prosecution of MILF members must be treated separately, says Palace
Going after the members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front involved in the deadly Mamasapano incident must be treated separately with the ongoing peace process between the government and the MILF, a Palace official said.

The Department of Justice said it will charge members of the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters involved in the bloody clash that killed 44 police commandos last January 25.

There are concerns that the criminal proceedings might derail the ongoing peace process between the government and rebel group especially the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which is already in Congress.

“It should be separate, really, because the peace process is proceeding on its own track. It really should be a separate discussion,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview on Saturday.

Valte said the Palace does not believe the MILF is using the peace talks to evade criminal prosecution regarding the Mamasapano incident.

Asked to comment if the Palace remains confident that the peace process could be finished in a timely manner despite what happened in Mamasapano, she said that although there are challenges, the administration remains optimistic.

“There have been challenges,” Valte told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan. “We have faced challenges in the past when it comes to the peace process and, you know, we remain optimistic that the discussion remains on the table and that it will be given attention by our legislators.”

“So hopefully, the discussions will push forward on the Bangsamoro Basic Law.”

Commenting on the possible resurgence of violence if the BBL is not passed on time, Valte said the primary goal of the government is to address the root causes of Muslim separatism.

The administration believes that there will always be conflicts if issues such as poverty, health care, social welfare and other concerns are not addressed, she noted.

“Nobody wants that situation to happen. We want, at the soonest possible time, to be able to reach these people and to allow development in these areas,” she said.

Although the public remains emotional and many are rejecting the creation of a Bangsamoro entity because of the incident in Mamasapano, the Palace will continue explaining about the need to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law to achieve a lasting peace in Mindanao, she added. PND (as)