GPH peace panel expresses sympathy to families of the 18 fallen troops

April 14, 2016 3:16 am 

By Feline Mikee Z. Cervantes

MANILA, April 13 (PNA) — The peace panel of the Philippine Government (GPH) has expressed sympathy to the families of the 18 soldiers who perished during a bloody encounter against Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militants in Basilan.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and comrades of the 18 soldiers who have fallen in the tragic encounter with Abu Sayyaf militants in Barangay Silangkum, Tipo-Tipo and Barangay Baguindan, Al-Barka in Basilan last Saturday, April 9. We wish those who were wounded fast recovery from their wounds," GPH peace panel chair Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

"True to the valor and heroism that we recall during the annual remembrance of Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valor, we honor our soldiers' sacrifice for the well-being of our country," Ferrer added.

The GPH peace panel chair noted that four of the 18 fallen troops were Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) "integrees" to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). They are Staff Sergeant Makin Jarani from Basilan; Sergeant Akmad Usman from Zamboanga Sibugay; Corporal Reezvi Archcelo Gandawali from Sulu; and Corporal Ibrahim Rajab Palaw, a Tausug.

Under the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the Government and the MNLF, some 5,000 MNLF combatants or their next of kin were integrated into the AFP.

The fateful April 9 clash was part of a series of major offensives launched against the ASG forces in Basilan since December 2015.

Ferrer noted that these operations resulted in the neutralization of at least 13 bandits and Moroccan terrorist Mohammad Khattab.

Furthermore, military offensives fully observed coordination protocols such as the 1997 ceasefire agreement between GPH and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) alongside the 2001 agreement relating to law enforcement operations and subsequent guidelines.

"These protocols have prevented mis-encounters between Government and MILF troops and have provided the AFP and local governments with valuable support against hostile enemy action," said Ferrer.

She likewise recognized the strong cooperation of the GPH-MILF ceasefire mechanisms, particularly the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group and the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, as well as the MILF leadership with regard to the ongoing law enforcement operations against the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan.

The peace negotiator assured that the GPH is firm in its resolve to fight for peace amid lawlessness and terrorism.

"The April 9 loss manifests the difficulty and gravity of the fight against lawlessness and terrorism. At the same time, it strengthens our resolve to continue with our fight for peace alongside our AFP and our valuable security partners in the peace process, believing that we must quell the spread of extremist groups such as the Abu Sayyaf that threaten the lives and security of our brothers and sisters in Muslim Mindanao and the country as a whole," said Ferrer. (PNA)

SCS/FMC

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