Binay to Aquino: Convene meeting on national security
MANILA, Philippines – According to Vice President Jejomar Binay, there’s a need to assess the national peace and security situation after firefight escalated in Mindanano, following the Mamasapano encounter.
On Wednesday, February 18, Binay urged Presient Benigno Aquino III to convene the National Security Council (NSC) to assess the situation “in light of recent developments, especially the reports of renewed clashes in Mindanao.”
The NSC comprises the President, the Vice President, the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, the National Security Council director, the executive secretary, and the secretaries of foreign affairs, national defense, interior and local government, justice, and labor and employment.
“The meeting will assess the current peace and order and security situation, and formulate the proper mechanisms that would prepare our law enforcement and the armed forces to respond accordingly,” he said in a statement.
Binay said it is important to “be prepared” and “to discuss not only what’s happening now but how to be ready for the future.”
“We need to invite persons who possess knowledge and experience on matters pertaining to national security,” he added. “The NSC meeting will provide our security forces the framework to act, keeping in mind that our ultimate goal is to ensure stability and pursue peace in Mindanao.”
On January 25, some 392 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos entered Mamasapano town, a known bailiwick of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), to serve arrest warrants to top terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir, or Marwan, and Abdul Basit Usman.
The operation resulted in a bloody clash between SAF troopers and rebel forces that claimed at least 68 lives, including 44 SAF troopers. The MILF blames this on the SAF team's failure to coordinate with them, as provided in its ceasefire agreement with the government on operations in known MILF territories.
Since then, clashes of rival Moro armed groups have erupted in Mindanao. The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), opposed to the peace process, broke away from the MILF and has been mounting attacks to dramatize their stand.
In the statement, Binay said more than 15,000 residents have reportedly fled their homes to escape the conflict, while Commander Lieutenant Colonel Orlando Edralin of the 7th Infantry Battalion was quoted as saying the clashes have evolved from a clan war to a full-blown fight between the MILF and the BIFF.