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ELDERLY BUSINESSWOMAN’S ABDUCTION BRINGS MILF AND NO. 1 ENEMY TOGETHER

PhilBoxing.com



Piñol.
The secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has long been fighting for an independent state in the Southern Philippines, has always considered former North Cotabato Governor Manny Pinol as its Number 1 Enemy.

The rebel group has endlessly labeled the fiery political leader as a “Peace Spoiler” for successfully stopping the signing of the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) which the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional in 2008.

Pinol in turn has accused the MILF of being behind terror activities in North Cotabato including the bombing of public places to pressure government to give in to their demands of an Islamic sub-state.

But the kidnapping of 70-year-old businesswoman Annie Datuwata in Libungan, North Cotabato Tuesday night has brought the archenemies together.

Right after the kidnapping of the elderly businesswoman, who is the mother of former Libungan municipal councilor Christopher Cuan Datuwata, a Chinese-Maguindanao mestizo and a very close friend of the former North Cotabato Governor, Pinol immediately sought the help of University of the Philippines (UP) Law Dean Marvic Leonen, who is engaged with a peace negotiations with the MILF in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in asking the MILF to help in the rescue of his friend’s sickly mother.

Leonen immediately relayed Pinol’s request to the MILF and the rebel group immediately responded by deploying their forces to run after the kidnappers.

With the support of military forces and the troops belonging to Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, the operator of the motorized banca used in spiriting the kidnap victim from Barangay Labas in Libungan to the marshes of Libungan-Torreta was immediately arrested.

Reports indicated that the MILF has taken custody of the pumpboat operator who is suspected to be a member of the Kidnap for Ransom Group operating in Central Mindanao.

The arrested suspect is reportedly detained at the MILF’s headquarters and main camp in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat.

Informed of the development by Major Jun Sol, member of the Committee for the Cessation of Hostilities (CCH) through a call from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia yesterday, the former North Cotabato Governor expressed happiness over the quick response of the MILF to his request.

“This is a very good development in as far as my relationship with the MILF is concerned. It is sad that it would take the kidnapping of my friend’s mother for us to build a bridge that could lead to greater understanding,” Pinol said yesterday.

“The rescue of Mrs. Datuwata would be a very positive development in the on-going peace process and in my relationship with the MILF,” Pinol added.

Under the administration of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Pinol opposed the MOA AD claiming that it was drafted without the benefit of public consultation and that the agreement was merely an excuse to amend the 1987 Philippine Constitution to extend the term of the former President.

“The lack of consultation and information breeds distrust and this was the main flaw of previous efforts to forge a peace agreement,” Pinol said.

In his latest exchange of views with former North Cotabato Governor and now 1st District Congressman Jesus Sacdalan, Pinol has declared that his trust and faith in the leadership of Pres. Benigno Aquino III has made him more open-minded on the issue of the peace agreement.

With the impending signing of the new peace agreement between the Philippine Government and the MILF, Pinol has declared he will respect and support whatever decision Pres. Aquino makes on the peace process.


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