From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 27): Gov't does not deal with terrorists – Palace
Malacañang on Tuesday reiterated the government’s policy not to negotiate with terrorists amid reports that the leaders of the Maute Group has offered to release a catholic priest in exchange for their parents who are in government custody.
“Government’s policy not to negotiate with terrorists remains,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a Palace briefing.
“The local religious leader-led talks with the terrorists last Sunday is one of that was not sanctioned by government, the military and our political leaders. Any demands made inside, therefore, hold no basis,” he said.
Abella’s statements came in the wake of reports that several Muslim leaders met on Sunday with Abdullah Maute, one of two brothers leading the siege of Marawi.
The meeting supposedly happened during the military-enforced 8-hour ceasefire to allow residents to celebrate the Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr.
During the meeting, the extremist leader reportedly offered to release Fr. Chito Suganob in exchange for the freedom of his parents, Farhana and Cayamora, who were arrested by government authorities this month.
According to the same reports, the terror leader also said his group might consider leaving Marawi City if the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) acts as mediator.
“All possibilities are, of course, being considered,” Abella said on the MILF proposal.
However, the Palace official reminded that whatever the outcome, everyone responsible for the rebellion in Mindanao should all be held accountable.
“Let us continue to remind the public that the gravity of their --- of terrorists’ and their supporters’ -- offense is immense and they must all be held accountable for all their actions,” Abella said.