The chances of any acceptable agreement between the government and MILF at present seems to be less and less likely. The agreement has been deemed unconstitutional and opposition in the wider Philippine community seems to be quite strong from what I have read.
The AFP of the Philippines is Americanised even in its rhetoric of collateral damage. However, I guess that term has become universal as a fig leaf to cover killing of civilians. As with the Americans as well it seems that in actuality some of the tactics of the AFP are bound to cause civilian casualties. See for example the description of the AFP attacks in Malaya.
Philippine gov't rejects calls for all-out war against separatists
www.chinaview.cn 2008-08-22 19:38:09
MANILA, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government Friday rejected calls for an "all-out" war with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), saying its ongoing military operations in the South are only meant to "neutralize" radicals involved in recent attacks against civilians.
"The President (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) wishes to allay fears that an all-out war will be launched by the government in light of increasing calls to do so," said Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita , quoted by Philippine TV network GMA News.
Calls for an all-out war against the MILF have been increasing following attacks by radical members of the MILF against civilians in the southern provinces of North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte and Sarangani in the past two weeks.
The clashes broke out, allegedly, as a result of the Philippine Supreme Court suspended a territorial pact scheduled for Aug. 5 to be signed between the government and the separatists.
The agreement on the territory of a projected Muslim-dominated state was regarded as the last remaining hurdle to a final political settlement that is expected to end the insurgency in the southern Philippines. Dozens were killed in the clashes, mostly civilians, and thousands were forced to leave their home for safety.
Among those who advocated total war was former President Joseph Estrada, who chided the Arroyo government of giving back territory that government forces seized from the separatist rebels in 2000 when he was in power.
On the other hand, religious leaders and human rights groups have warned that an all-out war could only aggravate the conflict that has divided Filipinos in the South for decades.
Adding to calls for peace last Thursday was former President Corazon Aquino, who said that peace is cheaper than war, GMA reported.
Ermita also said the government is not imposing on the MILF leadership to surrender their two commanders, Ameril Umbra Kato and Abdullah Makapaar, as a condition for peace negotiations to continue.
He said the government just has to "live up to that realization that they (MILF leaders) admit that they have elements that do not follow orders."
MILF leaders have said the attacks will be investigated jointly by the government and MILF ceasefire committees and that punishments await their men found responsible for the "unauthorized attacks."
Earlier on Friday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) filed charges of murder, kidnapping, and arson against Bravo, Kato and 89 others who were linked to attacks and burning of properties in parts of North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte and Sarangani provinces.
Ermita further said that government forces will continue to go after these "rogue" MILF members but are under strict orders to avoid "collateral damage," a term used for civilians getting caught in the crossfire.
"While the government's military and police forces are complying with the President's directive to neutralize the two erring commanders and other recalcitrant leaders and members of the MILF at all cost to the extent possible, collateral damage must be avoided," Ermita said.