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Philippines: Dureza Tells AFP to Mind Welfare of Sulu Civilians

Apr. 17, 2007

Jesus Dureza, President Arroyo’s adviser on the peace process, has released a statement saying that the clashes in Sulu was not directed against the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). He also called on the military to be careful not to harm civilians during its operations.

Office of the President of the Philippines
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER ON THE PEACE PROCESS

STATEMENT OF SEC. JESUS G. DUREZA ON THE ON-GOING SULU SITUATION
16 April 2007

We support the clamor for an immediate end to the fighting in Sulu.

We call on the leadership of Moro National Liberation Front to take appropriate steps and accordingly deal with the criminal and violent acts perpetrated by one of its commanders, Ustadz Habier Malik. Unless decisively addressed by the MNLF leadership, this latest incident will pose as an additional challenge in our peace engagement with the MNLF with whom we signed a peace agreement in 1996.

We take positive note of the sobriety shown by most MNLF leaders and members who disagreed with Maliks latest actions.

We call on the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as it undertakes punitive action against Malik, et al, to calibrate its actions and put a quick end to its efforts, taking into account the plight of the innocent civilians who are adversely affected during conflict situations.

We welcome the call of the OIC secretary general for an end of hostilities in Sulu, but we take exception to his assumption that what is going on in Sulu is between the AFP and the MNLF. The military operations is not against the MNLF organization. It is a limited military action against an MNLF rogue commander who staged an unprovoked attack on Panamao resulting to death and injuries of civilians and damage to properties.

We will endeavor to jointly strengthen the mechanism that will foster closer coordination between the MNLF and the AFP in the joint effort against terrorism and lawlessness, especially in Sulu.

The Philippine Government has always adhered firmly to its pronounced policy of seeking peaceful resolution to address armed conflicts.

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