Robredo directs local execs to lead ‘all-out justice’ campaign in Mindanao PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 07 November 2011 17:17

Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse M. Robredo has directed all local executives, particularly in the “conflict areas” in Mindanao, to lead and carry out the government’s “all-out justice” campaign by working for the arrest of lawless elements and wanted persons staying or hiding in their localities.

The DILG chief, who was with Social Welfare and Development Sec. Dinky Soliman and Presidential Peace Adviser Ging Deles, issued the directive Friday during separate visits in Basilan and Zamboanga Sibugay to deliver the president’s message and government assistance to evacuees in the strife-torn areas in said provinces.

During the meetings, Robredo said all elected local officials have sworn duties and are mandated under the law to lead the peace and order campaign, including going out after lawless elements and wanted persons, in their respective localities.

“In carrying out those tasks, the governors, mayors, barangay chairmen and their councils can seek out help from concerned national government agencies, like the AFP and the PNP, in maintaining peace and order and development of their areas,” he said.

“If local executives won’t do anything against lawless elements and fugitives present in their areas, there would be no peace and development thereat. If those problems persist in their locality, no amount of money and infrastructure projects would make them succeed,” he added.

Robredo, Deles and Soliman’s visit in Mindanao was part of the government’s response on the recent encounters between government troops and lawless elements from the Abu Sayyaf and Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Al-Barka in Basilan and in three towns of Zamboanga Sibugay.

The separate encounters resulted in the killing of at least 20 government troops and at least 10 lawless elements from the MILF and the displacement and evacuation of more than 2,000 families in the affected areas.

During the separate meetings with Basilan and Zambonga Sibugay provincial peace and order council members, which was attended by top local military and police commanders, and other stakeholders, Robredo underscored the vital role of local chief executives in preventing the prevalence of killings, extortion, kidnapping and other illegal activities being perpetrated by lawless elements in their localities.

“If a concerned local chief executive does nothing against lawless elements or even harbors fugitives in their areas, they are liable under the law. We can file criminal and administrative cases against them such as harboring fugitives or dereliction of duty under the Local Government Code of 1991,” he said.

Robredo also explained the government’s policy of “all-out justice” instead of an “all-out war” being espoused by some quarters against rogue MILF elements and Abu Sayyaf members in the region, saying that a military solution, based on past experiences, is not the correct answer to the peace and order problem prevailing in some parts of Mindanao.

“It is the responsibility of the government to go after and work for the arrest of lawless elements and fugitives hiding or staying in MILF-controlled areas. And it does not mean we are up against the MILF. The peace negotiations with them should push through. I hope that the public, particularly the Muslim-dominated areas in Mindanao, would understand that line,” he explained.

The DILG chief urged local chief executives and their sanggunian members, the local PNP and AFP commanders, the NGOs and CVOs and other stakeholders in a particular “conflict area” to unite and work hand in hand for the attainment of peace and development in their locality. — PIA