Sen. Escudero to MILF: Surrender killers of SAF 44

Senator Chiz Escudero challenged the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to prove its sincerity in its commitment to peace by identifying and surrendering those responsible for the killing of 44 members of the elite police force in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25.

Escudero said that even if the MILF says that the killers are not from its ranks but from the other armed groups, it is still duty-bound to identify and surrender these people who committed the crime.”

Escudero said the quest for peace had already taken a long and arduous process, cognizant of the steps taken by the government to arrive at a peace agreement. “Now, we put to task the MILF to do something, however difficult it may be for them, to help clean the gap and turn in the perpetrators of the Mamasapano massacre. As early as now, help clean the gap between peace and violence.”

The Muslim rebels claimed that fighting between the MILF and the Special Action Force (SAF) erupted because the government troops did not adhere to the concept of “stepping on the line.”

“They (MILF forces) insist that this stepping on the line be strictly enforced and respected. But clearly, the rebel group stepped on the line of justice which is a grave and inexcusable error especially in the midst of a peace pact,” the senator said, as he chided Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles for apparently acting like the spokesperson of the MILF instead of pushing the agenda of the Philippine government.

“Our peace panel representatives cannot toe the line of the government and at the same time be the mouthpiece of the MILF by saying they understand how difficult the situation is with the MILF. You are not between a rock and a hard place; you are in the government. Don’t forget that,” Escudero said.

Escudero also condemned those behind the uploading of a video circulating on the social media showing the killing of SAF officers which many described as execution by armed men allegedly belonging to the MILF.

Based on the video, the Mamasapano tragedy clearly was a massacre and not a “misencounter,” according to Escudero.

“Stop calling the Mamasapano tragedy a misencounter, as it is now clear that it was a massacre as revealed by the gruesome video showing how the SAF officers were brutally executed by armed men,” he said.

“This is disturbingly brutal and barbaric and has no place in a civilized society. Conscience and humanity has totally escaped these people and justice must be exacted at all cost,” Escudero said.#