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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countriesi
X
December 16, 2014 2:14 PM
Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.
Video

Video Indonesian Province to Expand Sharia Law

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and a legal system based on Dutch civil law and Indonesian government regulations. But in a 2001 compromise with separatists, Aceh province in Sumatra island’s north was allowed to implement Sharia law. Since then, religious justice has become increasingly strict. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh.
Video

Video Some Russian Businesses Thrive in Poor Economy

Capital flight, the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions are pushing Russia's staggering economy into recession. But not companies are suffering. The ruble’s drop in value has benefited exporters as well as businesses targeting increasingly frugal customers. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

All About America

AppleAndroid