THE possible coalition of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters with government forces to combat members of Maute terror group in Marawi City is unlikely to happen, the spokesperson of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Monday.
Speaking to reporters, AFP spokesperson Restituto Padilla Jr. explained that both parties have to first thoroughly discuss the appropriate parameters and protocols before they could join forces in quelling Marawi crisis.
“The mechanisms for any kind of this arrangement need to be discussed thoroughly prior to its implementation. So right now, we don't have the appropriate protocols, we don't have the appropriate coordinative elements on the ground to make this happen,” Padilla said.
“So this may come later after the resolution of the Marawi incident but not during this time because we are not able to sit down and talk how it will be implemented,” he added.
Padilla's statement came after President Rodrigo Duterte said last Sunday in Subic Bay, Olongapo City, that he is willing to accept the offer of MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari to allow 2,000 of his fighters to help in the ongoing fight against Maute militants.
The President said he sees no problem if thousands of MNLF fighters will serve as “integrees,” bandits who will be enlisted to the AFP.
“I’m willing to take in 2,000 as regular troops of the Armed Forces of the government,” Duterte said. Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, who was with Padilla in the press conference, said the government welcomes support from the MNLF as it goes about the “long-term cleansing and rebuilding effort” in Marawi City.
“We welcome the continuing support of the MNLF, the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), and other civil society groups now finding common cause with the government in fighting a terror threat to all Filipinos,” Abella said.
Padilla said the Moro combatants can only aid assistance to government troops if the situation in Marawi City “prolongs a little bit more.”
“For the moment, that is the way we see it – [it’s not going to happen]. And if this prolongs a little bit more, then perhaps we can do it, but hopefully not,” he said. “During this period, yes [the MNLF cannot join state forces]. It could be because it is already ongoing and it’s almost nearing to solution.”
Padilla said the Chief Executive’s intent to enlist MNLF fighters as integrees is still possible but only after the government forces is able to totally wipe out the lawless activities in Marawi City. “If it will really be pushed through, many issues have to be discussed so it will be settled accordingly and will not cause any complications,” he said.