By Genalyn Kabiling
The government has not sanctioned any negotiations with terrorists in Marawi City and instead vowed to hold them accountable for their offenses.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella made the argument in dismissing the Maute terror leader’s reported demand for the release of parents and relatives of the group in exchange for the freedom of hostages.
“Government policy not to negotiate with terrorists remains,” Abella said in a Palace news conference.
“Hence, the talk with the terrorists is one of that was not sanctioned by the government, the military, and our political leaders. Any demands made inside therefore hold no basis,” he said.
Abella insisted that the group responsible for the violence in Marawi must pay for their crimes.
“The gravity of the actions by the terrorists and their supporters is immense and they must all be held accountable for all their actions,” he said.
Reports said Abdullah Maute was ready to release abducted an abducted Catholic priest and several other hostages in exchange for the release of the detained parents and other kin of the group. The demand was made during a dialogue between religious leaders and the Maute leader over the weekend.
It was Dickson Hermoso, an assistant secretary of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, who initially disclosed the proposed talks with the Maute group. The retired general is assigned to coordinate efforts to free trapped civilians in Marawi City.
Asked about Hermoso’s involvement with the negotiations with the Maute group, Abelle asserted that the government does not negotiate with terrorists.
On whether the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will be tapped to help resolve the Marawi conflict, Abella said: “All possibilities are being considered.”
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