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MILF’s Iqbal to face Senate today

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal

After failing to appear twice during the Senate hearing on the Mamasapano encounter, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal is expected to face the Senate on Thursday government peace panel chairman Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said.

The Mamasapano encounter had 44 police commandos killed during an encounter with moro rebels last January 25.

Ferrer relayed Iqbal’s promise to members and guests of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP). Iqbal also did not show up at yesterday’s House hearing on the incident.

Iqbal will appear before the Senate after the MILF’s representative to the Senate got a mouthful from senators, asking the MILF’s peace panel chair to appear before them and provide answer to questions on the encounter.

“Unlike the New People’s Army that is listed as a terrorist group, the MILF is not listed in the UN Council nor in the Philippines’ list of terrorist groups,” she said.

“The MILF is a revolutionary government. They have not yet fully transformed. We are not at war with the MILF because we have a ceasefire,” Ferrer said.

She also said the Mamasapano incident was not a case of massacre, but a combat situation won by forces of the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

“I sympathize with the families of the Special Action Force commandos killed, but what we had was a combat situation. It was a real fight,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer also rebuffed accusations against the MILF that it was coddling international terrorists including Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Basit Usman.

“There is a call for the turnover of Basit Usman. The question is whether Basit Usman is in their (MILF) hands,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer said the cooperation between the government and the MILF had been going smoothly until the Mamasapano incident.

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