FROM THE WEBSITE OF OPPAP
Statement of GPH Peace Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on the armed encounter in Maguindanao
We are deeply saddened over the tragic encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao yesterday, January 25, involving the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police and various armed groups. We deplore the loss of lives of our law enforcement officers and our efforts are geared at preventing another tragedy without prejudice to other appropriate actions that might be taken.
Based on the reports of our ceasefire mechanisms, all efforts are being exerted to retrieve the casualties and provide safe passage to other SAF personnel who remain in the affected areas. Members of the International Monitoring Team, the Government’s and the MILF’s ceasefire committees, the 6th ID of the AFP and the regional police are working closely together in these efforts.
We laud the quick action of our mechanisms and their courage in immediately going to the conflict site. As soon as our ceasefire teams learned of the hostilities, they immediately effected a ceasefire. We regret however that due to the involvement of other armed groups, some intermittent fighting continued.
Our aim is to normalize the situation as soon as possible in order to prevent the displacement of civilians and give full swing to the humanitarian effort.
This incident and other recent acts of violence by other armed groups manifest the diverse security challenges that confound the peace process. But our resolve to see through the process of legislating the Bangsamoro Basic Law and implementing the different Normalization programs, including the security components, is only further strengthened. With better cooperation, we will be able to prevent these kinds of incidents.
As we know, elements of the Philippine National Police—Special Action Force were conducting law enforcement operations in the area in pursuit of Malaysian bomb-maker and top Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, known as Marwan. This objective of arresting the growth of extremist cells lodging themselves in our interior villages and sowing indiscriminate violence remains.
We say to our fallen policemen: for your selfless courage, for your steadfastness in answering the call of duty, for your sacrifices in the name of peace, we salute and honor you. To their families and loved ones, we convey our deepest condolences.
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