GMA: SUCCESSFUL PUNITIVE ACTION VS. MILF

Manila, May 27, 2003 -- President Arroyo yesterday declared victory in a 
10-day-old military campaign against "terrorist cells" allegedly sheltered 
by the largest Moslem separatist group in southern Philippines.

Mrs. Arroyo had ordered selective "punitive" strikes against Moro Islamic 
Liberation Front (MILF) units she blamed for the deadly bombings and raids 
on Mindanao shortly before her state visit to the United States last May 17.

"The punitive military actions against the terrorist attackers of Siocon, 
Zamboanga del Norte and Maigo, Lanao del Norte, have been dislodged from 
their bases and dispersed into ragtag groups being run to the ground by the 
government troops," she said in a speech.  "The investigation into the 
Davao and Koronadal bombings is bearing fruit with the arrest of the 
perpetrators of these and even previous terrorist attacks."

The President has warned the 12,500-member MILF, that is waging a campaign 
to set up an Islamic state in the southern third of the mainly Roman 
Catholic Philippines, of giving succor to "terrorist cells."

She has warned the MILF to surrender the suspected bombers and raiders 
responsible for nearly 100 deaths and to renounce alleged ties to foreign 
terror groups by June 1 or be branded as "terrorist organization."

Mrs. Arroyo stressed she was not afraid of the MILF nor of the threat of 
the Jemaah Islamiyah that it has dispatched suicide bombers in Central 
Mindanao.

The MILF has denied any links to the al-Qaeda terror network of Osama bin 
Laden or its Southeast Asian wing, the Jemaah Islamiyah. The MILF has also 
dismissed claims it was linked to the local Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom 
group, which both Washington and Manila say is affiliated to the al-Qaeda.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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