Press Release
January 28, 2015

Drilon to MILF: Surrender Usman, Moro rebels involved
in Mamapasano attack

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon challenged the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to demonstrate its partnership with the government by surrendering to authorities Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) commander Basit Usman and all those involved in the unfortunate and unwarranted bloody encounter that killed dozens of members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) last January 25.

"This act of goodwill, if demonstrated, will without a shadow of a doubt prove the MILF's sincerity and support to the government's peace and development program," he emphasized.

He said that the MILF should fully cooperate with government's efforts in investigating and bringing justice to the victims of Mamapasano attacks, so that doubts and reservations formed as a result of the bloody attack can be erased, and confidence and faith in the peace process can again be restored.

"If they will surrender the suspects in these heinous acts and help arrest Usman, the MILF will show that they are one with the government in the pursuit of genuine and lasting peace, and that the government has made the right decision in negotiating a peace pact with them, because they are and will always be on the side of justice and harmony," Drilon stressed.

"This is a test of sincerity on the part of the MILF on the one hand, and a test of faith in the peace process on the part of the government and the Filipino people, on the other hand," said Drilon.

The Senate leader underscored that the MILF, as a partner of the government in its peace initiative, should not block but instead assist the police authorities in arresting the likes of Usman, a notorious bomb expert with links to the Jemaah Islamiyah terror network, who has been the subject of law enforcement operations for years.

"The January 25 police operation was a chance to finally arrest Usman and Zulkipli "Marwan" Hir, but our policemen had been foiled, and lost their lives in a tragic and deadly event," he added.

The government must apply the full force of the law to bring justice to the families of the slain policemen, Drilon emphasized.

Drilon also reiterated that the bloody encounter, condemnable as it is, should not weaken the resolve of each and every Filipino to aspire and work for genuine and lasting peace for their brothers and sisters in Mindanao.

"Peace is never easy. Let us not give up," he said.

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