News / Asia

Clashes in Philippines Could Threaten Government Peace Talks

Clashes in Philippines Could Threaten Government Peace Talks
Clashes in Philippines Could Threaten Government Peace Talks
Simone Orendain

Philippine defense officials say fighting between government forces and the country’s largest Muslim rebel group has displaced some 20,000 residents of two southern provinces. The fighting is happening even though the two sides are in the midst of peace talks. 

The government says it is conducting operations to root out what it calls criminal elements in areas claimed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Government forces say they are after current and former commanders of the MILF and members of the much smaller, Abu Sayyaf group, accused of killing soldiers and carrying out kidnappings for ransom.

During the first violent operation last week, the MILF said the military crossed into its area without alerting the rebel group beforehand. The group claimed responsibility for killing 19 soldiers, saying it was defending itself.  

Rommel Banlaoi is a terrorism research and security studies expert. He says there are indications that the government in fact did not properly notify the rebels about the operation.

“I think they made some lapses by not coordinating with the MILF," said Banlaoi. "I think the Philippines has learned its lesson well and the AFP is more nuanced now in terms of running after lawless elements.”

President Benigno Aquino responded to the incident by firing two military officials. Earlier this week he declared that justice would be served against those criminal elements responsible.

Following the violence, Aquino reiterated that peace negotiations will continue despite calls from national politicians to suspend the ceasefire and go to war against the MILF.

MILF Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar said in a statement that the group remains committed to the peace process and upholding the ceasefire. He says the MILF is convinced by the president’s sincerity.

Asia Foundation Country Director Steven Rood says so far the operations have not had a negative impact on the talks. But, he says, this could change.

“There is still the danger that these kinds of sparks could continue to spread," said Rood. "The fact of the matter is that the military and the MILF have different accounts of what is going on and the extent to which the activities are permitted or not permitted by the ceasefire.  And so while we’re still in that phase of trying to sort it out, we do have the possibility of further escalation.”

The two sides are scheduled to hold peace talks next month, following a three-month hiatus after both sides reached an impasse.

**In an earlier version of this story we incorrectly reported that Rommel Banlaoi is a member of the International Monitoring Team. He is a terrorism research and security studies expert. VOA regrets the error.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs