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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid