Philippines - ReliefWeb News
Manila, Philippines | AFP | Friday 2/6/2015 - 05:10 GMT
Philippine Muslim rebels said Friday they were considering returning dozens of high-powered firearms that they seized from some of the 44 police commandos killed in a botched anti-terror operation in the south.
The gesture would show the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are committed to a peace treaty they signed with Manila last year, the group's chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal told AFP.
"We are discussing the very sensitive issue of returning the firearms.... A decision will be made very soon," Iqbal said.
"We are assuring the government that on the part of the MILF, we did not mean for it to happen," he said. "We are in mourning too. We lost 18 of our men. We are also in pain."
Iqbal could not immediately say how many police guns were seized by the MILF.
Forty-four police commandos hunting one of the world's most wanted terrorists were killed after more than 10 hours of fighting in remote marshlands in Maguindanao province on January 25 -- the single biggest loss of life among government forces in recent memory.
Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, a top militant in Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah and a key suspect in the 2002 Bali bombings, is believed to have been killed in the police assault, according to authorities, citing an initial DNA test by the FBI.
Zulkifli's lair was surrounded by communities controlled by the MILF and another rebel group that did not sign the peace accord, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and police commandos engaged both groups.
"This is one step towards accountability," national police spokesman Generoso Cerbo told AFP when asked to comment on the MILF's statement.
"This is a good development, although it won't be complete unless the perpetrators are identified," he added.
The Philippine justice department, parliament, and security establishments are conducting parallel investigations into the incident, which put the peace treaty in peril and opened up President Benigno Aquino to savage criticism.
"The peace process remains on track, though delayed," Iqbal said.
The symbolic decommissioning of a first batch of rebel firearms was scheduled for March, he said.
The peace deal, aimed at ending a decades-old rebellion that has claimed more than 120,000 lives, binds Manila to passing a law that will create an autonomous area in the South and give the country's Muslim minority self-rule.
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Philippines: Progress on Reconstruction of Leyte Medical Society Building/ Emergency Relief Station in Tacloban
LEYTE MEDICAL SOCEITY BUILDING GROUND BREAKING CEREMONY WAS FEATURED ON THE WEBSITE of JAPAN TIMES and ABS-CBN.
Since November 2013 when Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines, AMDA has been supporting relief and reconstruction of the affected people. One of our reconstruction projects is "Reconstruction of Leyte Medical Society Builing/Emergency relief Station in Tacloban" in collaboration with Leyte Medical Society.
Before the typhoon, Leyte Medical Society (LMS) used to hold monthly free medical missions and many events such as community health education, continuous medical education for medical professionals and others at LMS building located in Tacloban City. After the typhoon, the building swept away and LMS no longer had place to meet and organize events for their community.
During AMDA's emergency relief with the support from local organizations in Samar in December 2013, AMDA had a chance to meet and talk with the president of Leyte Medical Society. After hearing what functions LMS played before the Typhoon and their current situation, it turned out that there was a need to rebuild their building not only for what they used to do at the building but also for preparedness against future disasters.
In cooperation with Japan Medical Association and Fukuyama Medical Association, AMDA decided to support Leyte Medical Society to rebuild their building for their community as well as for emergency relief station.
After the groundbreaking ceremony on 9 November 2014, construction is now in progress, and the expected completion date is the beginning of March 2015. LMS is planning to hold the opening ceremony on March 8th, 2015.