GMA TO MILF: END ATTACKS IN 20 DAYS OR ELSE

Manila, May 14, 2003 -- Malacanang has given the Moro Islamic Liberation 
Front 20 days to stop its terrorist acts or face the risk of being declared 
as a terrorist organization.

Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said that during the meeting Monday 
night of the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security, Foreign 
Affairs Secretary Blas Ople proposed 60 days, but members felt this was too 
long.

"If there is some show of sincerity or some honest effort on the other side 
during that period, perhaps ... there will be no declaration," Bunye said.

US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone said the ball is now in the court of the 
MILF.

"The real question for me is, has the MILF made its decision whether it is 
a terrorist organization or whether they are going to fight in a different 
way and a much more effective way for the legitimate interest of their 
people," he said.

He said that once the MILF decides what their real nature is, the 
Philippines and other countries, including the US, "would be able to deal 
with them properly."

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel said the 20-day ultimatum will not work.

"The only way to deal with the MILF decisively is to get the United States 
as an honest peace broker," he said.

"The US can exert tremendous pressure on all sides of the Mindanao conflict 
to put an end to the bloody and costly strife that has been sapping the 
economy of our nation," he said.

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Ramon Montaņo castigated the military for passing the buck 
to civilians for last Saturday's Koronadal bombing incident.

"They (intelligence community) are a bunch of incompetents. They don't seem 
to understand the basic tenet of (military) intelligence, which is command 
responsibility," he said.

Lt. Col. Daniel Lucero, AFP Public Information Office chief, on Monday 
admitted there was a failure of intelligence but said that without the 
involvement of civilians, failure of intelligence would be inevitable.

"Such is not the responsibility of the public," said Montaņo.

Montaņo reiterated his call for the Arroyo administration to sack Brig. 
Gen. Victor Corpus, military intelligence chief.

He said the intelligence community will continue to be a weak institution 
if the ISAFP is headed by the likes of Corpus.

"Why should you promote an incompetent officer? The entire military corps 
is demoralized because of that promotion," said Montaņo.

Montaņo said Corpus' only accomplishment in his more than two years as 
ISAFP chief was to fabricate charges against Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes, while accepting part of the blame for the 
intelligence failure in Koronadal City bombing, said he does not see heads 
rolling.

Reyes also scored the failure of residents of Siocon town in Zamboanga del 
Norte to inform the military of the raid by the MILF last May 4. (By 
JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR, Malaya)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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