MILF demands immediate release of arrested rebel leader

Subscribe Now October 11, 2010 at 05:50pm

SULTAN KUDARAT, Maguindanao, Philippines – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has lodged a formal protest against the September arrest of a ranking rebel official by elements of the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Davao City. It warned that his detention could scuttle planned peace talks and demanded his immediate release.

Mohammad Ameen, chairman of the MILF central committee secretariat, said on Monday that Engineer Educard Guerra (passport name: Abraham Yap Alonto) was on his way to Geneva to attend the meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) when nabbed by authorities at the Davao airport on Sept. 22.

Ameen said the charges were not clear.

He said the MILF viewed Guerra’s arrest as “a blatant violation of the security and safety guarantee” for rebel leaders, agreed upon by the Philippine government and the MILF in its ceasefire agreement.

“The arrest (is also) a blatant violation of the GRP [Government of the Republic of the Philippines]-MILF ceasefire agreement and the spirit of the current GRP-MILF peace talks, and documents signed by the parties, which provided for the safety and security of MILF members who are directly and principally involved in the peace process,” Ameen said.

Guerra sits in the MILF central committee and is covered by this guarantee, according to the MILF.

Ameen said the MILF also informed Kuala Lumpur about the arrest in a letter that MILF chairman Ebrahim Murad sent on Sept. 27.

In a similar letter, Murad also asked the Aquino government to immediately release Guerra.

"(The) MILF Central Committee considers this arrest as a direct blow to the early resumption of the negotiations," a rebel statement said.

President Benigno Aquino's chief peace adviser, Teresita Deles, said the government would issue a formal statement later Monday to address Alonto's arrest.

The MILF previously agreed to resume formal negotiations with the government no later than November, with Malaysia expected to host the talks.

The peace process stalled in August 2008 after MILF units mounted attacks across the southern island of Mindanao in retaliation for a Supreme Court ruling that struck down a proposed peace deal with the government.

The upsurge of violence in 2008 displaced 750,000 people and left nearly 400 people dead.

The peace proposal would have given the group control over large areas of the south of the mainly Roman Catholic nation.

Source: inquirer.net



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