GMA INCLINED TO TAG MILF TERRORIST

Manila, May 11, 2003 -- The bombing attack yesterday in Koronadal City 
might be the last straw, forcing the government to declare the Moro Islamic 
Liberation Front a terrorist group.

In her weekly message Saturday morning, Arroyo said the government will 
apply military, legal, and diplomatic pressure on the MILF.

"We shall combine military action, stringent legal measures, full 
diplomatic pressure and community preparedness to bear upon the MILF 
threats," Arroyo said.

Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said the government would unleash the 
"full force of the law against the perpetrators" of the attack on Siocon, 
Zamboanga del Norte, the most recent MILF atrocity before the Koronadal 
bombing.

On the plan to declare the MILF a terrorist group, Bunye said he is getting 
in touch with Renato de Villa, presidential adviser on strategic concerns, 
to find out if he already has recommendations.

De Villa was instructed earlier by President Arroyo to study the situation 
and submit his recommendation.

Arroyo said she has ordered that all MILF terrorist acts be "fully 
documented and brought before the OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference) 
and especially before the OIC Committee of the Eight that is charged with 
monitoring the Mindanao problem."

"We will not allow the MILF to continue fooling the Islamic world (that) it 
is an insurgent organization with legitimate aims, when it is engaged in 
the murder of innocent civilians," she added.

Arroyo said she has ordered peace negotiators to inform Malaysia of the 
postponement of the exploratory talks in Kuala Lumpur between the 
government and MILF panels. The talks were supposed to be held May 9.

Arroyo said the MILF leadership should answer for the attacks on civilian 
communities in Maigo, Lanao del Norte, and in an evacuation center in 
Pikit, North Cotabato.

Arroyo called on communities prone to MILF attacks to strengthen their 
defenses against terrorism and be alert for "more terrorist depredations 
and acts of cruelty against civilians."

But she also told Christians living in Mindanao not to vent their anger on 
innocent Muslim communities.

"I will apply the full force of the law against any form of vigilantism. 
This is not a fight between Muslims and Christians. This is a fight between 
the evil forces of terror on one side and all civilized and peace-loving 
Filipinos on the other," she said. (By REGINA BENGCO, Malaya)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2003  by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE