Deles, Ferrer protecting MILF ‘political interests’
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Deles, Ferrer protecting MILF ‘political interests’

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THE dynamic duo of Secretary Teresita Deles and Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer is again doing more favors for rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) than the Philippine government (GPH) itself.

This, after Deles and Ferrer–the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the GPH chief negotiator, respectively–chose to be tight-lipped on information regarding potentially incriminating photographs that allegedly shows the recruitment of men and gathering of high-powered firearms at a supposed MILF camp in Panglima Estino, Sulu.

The pictures, reportedly submitted by a “concerned citizen”, were shown by Senator Grace Poe at the start of Tuesday’s panel inquiry on the January 25 Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

In his interpellation, Senate President Franklin Drilon asked the two key players of the ongoing Mindanao peace process if they have verified the pictures. The MILF and the government’s joint ceasefire mechanism had already looked into matter and submitted a report, Ferrer said.

Asked if Secretaries Mar Roxas (Interior and Local Government) and Voltaire Gazmin (National Defense) were furnished a copy of the report, Ferrer beat around the bush before saying that the issue “has to do with Sulu politics”.

She said these political matters are linked to “political alliances emerging in time for 2016” which are “sensitive” pieces of information. “These are intel info and it might be better that it be treated confidentially,” Ferrer explained.

“What’s so sensitive about political alliances in 2016?” replied Drilon. “What is in issue here…is that apparently there is a continuous buildup of arms (by MILF),” the politiko stressed.

Referring to the picture, Ferrer said: “There are some identified personalities and private armed groups in terms of weaponry. It’s very sensitive because of politics in area.”

Deles, in response to a later question by Poe, defended Ferrer’s reticence by claiming that violence may erupt if details of the alleged MILF camp photo is discussed in public.

“Maybe just to clarify that it is not purely political but it is political with the possibility of violence between conflicting political parties,” Deles said.

Panel chair Poe reminded Ferrer and Deles that they cannot invoke such security concerns “unless there is a clear and present danger on the lives also of the constituents within the area.”

In the end, the two promised to submit the report to the Senate Committee.

Deles and Ferrer have been accused of “lawyering” for the MILF in past hearings on the Mamasapano clash. Some 44 elite police officers perished at the hands of the Moro rebels during the town raid. (Randy K. Ortega)

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