Malacanang today said the Wednesday clash between the military and members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which resulted in the death of at least seven MNLF members, will not affect the peace agreement with the Moro rebels.
Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said it was the government’s responsibility to enforce the law and to go after those who held residents hostage in the island of Balabac.
Remonde said Malacanang supported the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) squarely on the issue because it was aware of the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Reports said about 30 to 40 MNLF members, armed with high-powered firearms, stormed Mantanguli island in Balabac town on Saturday, prompting some 400 families in the area to flee for safety.
Arevalo said that among those killed and recovered bodies was Abdullah Abdurajak, alias Pa Guru, the leader of the MNLF group.
Over 1,200 families, mostly Muslim, from three fishing villages of Balabac have fled to the main village of Bangkalaan when the MNLF members harassed the civilian population and raised the MNLF flag over the Philippine flag on their second day in the island.
The firefight happened when the military attempted to serve arrest warrants to Abdullah and Noli Abdurajak, and Abdul Majid for illegal possession and discharge of firearms. (PNA)