FVR says 'war is not an option'

October 26, 2011 10:15 pm 

By Ben Cal

MANILA, Oct. 26 – “War is not an option.”

This in a nutshell was the statement of former President Fidel V. Ramos when asked during a press conference Wednesday on what he thinks the government’s response to the spate of attacks reportedly perpetrated by some wayward elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and bandit groups in Mindanao, particular in Basilan on Oct. 18.

Ramos held a press conference at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) before he left to Guangdong Province, China this afternoon.

He gave his full support to President Benigno S. Aquino III who rejected calls for an all-out war against the MILF following the ambush-slaying of 19 Special Forces and wounding of 14 others.

Ramos said the all-out justice of President Aquino is the right direction.

At the same time, the former President supported the all-out justice and hot pursuit operation against the perpetrators of the Basilan attack.

Ramos recalled that during his administration, some 200 members of the MILF Lost Command and Abu Sayyaf terrorists attacked the town of Ipil in Zamboanga del Sur (now Zamboanga Sibugay) in 1995.

“They killed so many people there, including men of the First Infantry Division which is just nearby, and robbed seven banks and burned the town,” he said.

“Immediately within 48 hours, we were in hot pursuit, I was there with (Defense Secretary Renato de Villa and give instructions,” Ramos said.

He said after one month of operations from Ipil up to Zambo Norte, Sibuko, Siraway, and Siokon, well only 20 of original 200 remained and they jumped back to their boats and ran back to Basilan,” Ramos said.

Despite the attacks in Basilan and other parts of Mindanao, he said the government must “continue the peace process” and the hot pursuit operation.

Ramos calls this approach as the “two-pronged strategy.”

Ramos urged the government and the MILF “to speed up the peace process in regard to a comprehensive peace pact.”

In 2000, former President Joseph Estrada declared an all-out war against the MILF but the Mindanao conflict has not been solved even after government forces captured 46 of the 49 MILF camps in Central Mindanao, including Camp Abubakar, the MILF headquarters.

The war had also resulted in the displacement of tens of thousands of civilians in the region.

Another war erupted in Central Mindanao in 2008 after the aborted signing of the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD).

Ramos said that the end result was “terrible and very depressing”, referring to the many casualties both soldiers and civilians. (PNA) RMA/RBC/utb


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