DAVAO CITY, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III said the government did not sanction the recent operation of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu.
In a press conference after the closing ceremony of the 2013 Philippines Development Forum in Davao on Tuesday, February 5, Aquino clarified that the MNLF has not even informed the government about the attack.
"There is no clearance," Aquino said.
More than 26 people were killed after violence erupted between the MNLF and the Abu Sayyaf, which is also known as Al-Harakat Al-Islamiyya, on Sunday, February 3, hours after the bandit group released two of their kidnap victims in Patikul, Sulu.
As of the moment, Aquino said the priority of the government is securing the civilians in the area adding that the residents might get caught in the crossfire.
Officials from the local government and the Department of Social Welfare and Development are presently facilitating evacuation in the area.
Aquino added that the government is containing the hostilities so that it would not spread out in the region.
On 1996, the MNLF and the government inked the final peace agreement, which ended decades of hostilities between both parties.
The Abu Sayyaf is included in the US State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. - Rappler.com