Sulu Clashes Could Disrupt Philippines Elections

Apr. 17, 2007

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — Senate Minority Leader Aquilino
Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today expressed
concern that renewed clashes between government
soldiers and Muslim rebels in Sulu could disrupt the
May 14 elections unless it is stopped immediately.

Pimentel urged the government and military authorities
to look into the cause of the latest outbreak of
fighting between Armed Forces of the Philippines and
the Moro National Liberation Front in Sulu,
particularly the group of a Habier Malik, to prevent
their recurrence.

Fighting in Patikul and other parts of Sulu is
escalating. Parties to the conflict should abide by
the peace agreement. Otherwise, war could lead to more
loss of lives, sham elections or to military control
of Sulu, he said.

The lone senator from Mindanao said the outbreak of
hostilities was unexpected and very unfortunate
because MNLF leader Nur Misuari, with whom Malik is
identified, is running for governor of Sulu.

Pimentel said he has every reason to believe that an
atmosphere of violence and fear in Sulu is the last
thing that Misuari wanted because he is seeking the
support of his provincemates for his candidacy.

He said the occasional skirmishes between AFP and MNLF
forces in Sulu shows the fragility of the peace and
order condition in the area due to the perceived
failure of government to abide by certain commitments
under the 1996 peace agreement particularly in
bringing about economic development and addressing the
acute poverty and joblessness problem.

Republic of the Philippines
Office of Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q.
Pimentel, Jr.
Senate, Pasay City

Press Release

Date: April 15, 2007
Ref: Omeng / (02) 5526731

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