MILF declares war on drugs in Philippines south

Former Muslim rebel group orders officials to combat illegal drugs, while communist insurgents launch similar campaign in nearby provinces

MILF declares war on drugs in Philippines south

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Philippines’ one-time largest Muslim rebel group has declared a war against drugs in southern provinces where it is seeking autonomy in talks with the government, while communist insurgents have launched a similar campaign in their nearby strongholds.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has ordered its field commanders to engage in a campaign against illegal drugs in Maguindanao and other areas covered by a government-MILF ceasefire agreement, Inquirer.net reported Sunday.

The central committee of the MILF, which signed a 2014 peace deal with the government, has adopted a resolution supporting the order aimed at combating drugs, particularly methamphetamine hydrochloride, or “shabu”.

The group has placed posters across Maguindanao warning that “illegal drug is the root of all evil.”

An editorial posted on the MILF’s official Luwaran.com website this week said that drug addiction caused by methamphetamine “has hit all sectors of society and does not recognize any boundary, race or religion”.

It especially warned about the negative impact on poor community members, saying that some “resort to criminal means to get money to buy drugs” whereas users from families with financial resources may have access to rehabilitation services.

“As a menace, shabu is the enemy of all and, therefore, should be fought together. A common enemy calls for a united front approach," the editorial said.

It added that the campaign was supported by local politicians including Governor Esmael Mangudadatu and Vice Governor Lester Sinsuat, both leaders of the Alliance of Lumad, Iranun and Maguindanaon organization for local tribes.

Underlining that the MILF is well-suited to the task due to its “vast knowledge of the population and… good information of the dealers and users”, it referred to the “many success stories” of an MILF-government initiative against kidnap-for-ransom groups operating in southern Mindanao island.

Meanwhile, the communist New People’s Army (NPA) has reportedly executed four suspected drug dealers as part of its separate campaign -- moves denounced by local authorities and police.

Inquirer.net cited unnamed police sources as saying that gunmen who identified themselves as rebels shot the four men dead in Compostela Valley province. They had reportedly not heeded letters by the group calling on local drug suspects to appear at a nearby NPA camp.

Compostela Valley Governor Arturo Uy told the website Friday that he believed the killings, which took place hours apart Tuesday in Pantukan, were meant to “discredit” local police.

“It’s extrajudicial killing,” said Uy. “We condemn it.”

The NPA -- to whom some drug dealers have reportedly reported and received stern warnings -- has yet to issue a statement.

The use of methamphetamine hydrochloride -- also known as "crystal meth" or  "ice" -- is widespread in the southern Philippines.

In the predominantly Christian city of Zamboanga and the neighboring island province of Basilan, authorities are struggling to fight against the prohibited drug, arresting dealers and users on a near daily basis. 

For years, Philippine officials have been gathering information about the involvement of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf -- a militant group with strongholds in Sulu and Basilan -- in drug trafficking.

The group is notorious for its regular attempts at kidnapping and extortion to raise funds for the acquisition of firearms, explosives and ammunition to be used in its struggle for an Islamic state.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Kasım 2015, 16:47
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