MILF on martial law: Ensure ceasefire on ground

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(File photo) Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants. The government estimates that the MILF has at least 10,000 fighters.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 26) — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) hopes the military operations against the Maute group in Marawi City will not spark fighting in other areas.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed the whole Mindanao under a state of martial law, as well as suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus Tuesday evening.

This was after government forces clashed with members of terror group Maute, that has forced thousands of residents in Marawi to flee.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the MILF said mobilizing the military in Mindanao "should still respect the mechanisms that have proven to be effective in scaling down armed encounters between government forces and the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF)."

The BIAF is the armed wing of the MILF.

"Conversely, recent events have shown that disregard of these mechanisms have been disastrous to our communities and to the effort to bring to fruition the end of the decades-long conflict in our homeland," the statement, signed by MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, read.

Continuous military operations in Mindanao have resulted in clashes with the MILF, the Moro National Liberation Front, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

The group also appealed to ensure that ceasefire mechanisms are in accordance with the Agreement on the General Cessation of Hostilities (AGCH) signed by both the Philippine government and the MILF in 1997.

In addition, it also condemned the violence "perpetrated by group or groups whose only aim is to sow terror."

"There is no justification for launching an offensive against civilian populace and to destroy infrastructures and institutions serving the public," the statement read.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte said he has lost optimism over peace negotiations with Moro rebels despite pushing to end the armed conflict in MIndanao.

Read more: Duterte 'pessimistic' about peace talks with MILF, MNLF

Duterte had urged the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in February to create the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro for peace and unity. The BTC is expected to finish the agreement before the President's State of the Nation Address in July 2017.