This is from The News (Pakistan)
A great many people are being displaced by these conflicts. The United States is sending some aid to help but no doubt much more is probably needed. The commanders who began the conflict supposedly did so without authorisation but there has been no sign of any attempt on the part of the MILF to apprehend them. Without that happening surely neither the government nor the MILF will be able to punish them. If they really are renegade commanders it would seem suitable punishment to deliver them into the hands of the government. They don''t represent the MILF in any event! The situation does not look promising. At the same time there is still a long term conflict with the NPA (Maoists) with no sign of peace talks on that front. The U.S. has branded the NPA as a terrorist group and that seems to make negotiations more difficult. However with the MILF they have so far not been labelled terrorists though it is hard to see why given that sometimes they use similar guerilla warfare tactics to the NPA.
Over 100 killed in fierce battles
Peace process could collapse, says MILFSunday, August 24, 2008DARAPANAN, Philippines: Muslim rebels on Saturday urged the Philippine government to halt a military offensive they say threatens a years long peace process and escalates violence in the troubled south. The military has launched ground and air attacks on rebel positions in response to a guerrilla rampage Monday in which 37 people were shot or hacked to death in several villages. Al-Haj Murad, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), told a news conference at a tightly guarded rebel base near southern Cotabato city that the military has started indiscriminate attacks while pursuing rebel commanders blamed for leading the rampage. The rebels, who have been fighting for Muslim self-rule in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation’s south for decades, have said they regret a recent upsurge in violence and that the commanders responsible acted on their own. Murad said peace talks should resume, but repeated earlier rejections of a government demand that suspects be turned over to face the criminal justice system. “We cannot subject our members to the laws of the government,” Murad said from a stage where four rebels armed with M-16 rifles and grenade launchers stood guard. “We are a revolutionary force.” He suggested that the correct forum to deal with the rebel commanders should be a cease-fire committee involving the government, the rebels and an international truce monitoring group.Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro repeated the government’s demand. He accused rebel leaders of engaging in “extortion ...intransigence and arrogance” in their statements since the rampage when they should be showing “good faith to try to stop the conflict from escalating” by turning over the commanders. “We hope the (rebels are) reasonable enough to see that it does them no good to coddle these criminals,” Teodoro told reporters in Manila. Murad said a deadline of sorts looms because the truce group’s mandate is set to expire Aug 31. The military has reported heavy fighting in four towns since Thursday and estimated it has inflicted up to 100 casualties on rebel forces in ground battles and barrages of artillery and aerial bombing. Col. Marlou Salazar, an army brigade commander, said intercepted radio messages and accounts from villagers show 22 rebels have been killed in the last three days of fighting in four Maguindanao townships alone. Two government soldiers were killed and 15 others wounded in the area, Salazar said. Sen. Richard Gordon, head of the Philippine Red Cross, said about 500 civilians were escorted out of the combat zone in Datu Piang township on Friday and another 1,000 were being helped out of outlying villages.