By Ronald O. Reyes
PALO, Leyte (Oct. 20, 2011) —Pres. Benigno Aquino III extended his deep sympathies to the families of 19 soldiers who were killed and those who were injured in a clash with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters last Tuesday in Basilan, Mindanao.
“Nakikiramay tayo sa lahat ng mga pamilya na nawalan ng kanilang membro sa nagyari.”
The president said this in a hurried press briefing shortly after joining with the rest of the visitors and people here in the town for the 67th Leyte Gulf Landing Anniversary ceremony.
He also said that he is looking on the matter seriously.
President Aquino then said that he is going to have a command conference on Friday together with top officials from military and police to precisely discuss the issues in Basilan attack.
“Bago mag-relieve ng ilang commander doon, dapat talagang masiyasat kung ano ang dahilan at bakit naging ganito ang naging resulta sa ating sandatahang lakas at iwasto, at hihingin ko bukas (Oct. 21) ang mga detalye ng mga pagwawasto.”
When asked whether there is a need now for the government to review or suspend the peace agreement with the MILF, Pres. Aquino hinted that an “all-out-war” will not improve the situation in the said area.
As an answer also, he then reiterated the central message of his earlier speech during the honoring of Filipino-American World War II veterans, saying, “Matuto naman tayo… sa gyera walang makikinabang (Let us learn… nobody gets benefited in war) ”.
In his Leyte Gulf Landing commemorative speech, Pres. Aquino has stressed that “the war is over, the peace needs to be won completely”.
He hinted that this is also similar in terms of the internal conflict faced by the country today.
It can be recalled that peace has remained elusive in war-torn Mindanao as MILF continued in waging a rebellion against the government for an independent Islamic state in Mindanao.
The clashes have developed since 1970s, claiming more than 150,000 lives already.
Reportedly, around 1,500 civilians had fled from their homes since Wednesday due to military shelling in the area.