Philippines

Philippines: Commentary - Profiling of IDPs in Mindanao sifts out MILF rebels

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Tacloban City (27 October) -- Profiling of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mindanao is now being conducted in order to keep renegade MILF rebels from masquerading as evacuees and infiltrating evacuation centers in Central Mindanao, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said.

This is to validate reports that several of the rebels who have abandoned their commanders, Ameril Umbra Kato and Abdurahman Macapaar, have blended in and have sought refuge from intensified government actions.

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. said the government recognize the high probability of Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels, with their spouses and children, seeking refuge in government-run temporary shelters.

He said that it is accepted that some leakages can occur in evacuation center but the government social workers are continuing the profiling of the evacuees.

Sometime ago, DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral reported that there is an on-going masterlisting and profiling of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) through the issuance of DSWD Family Access Cards (FACs).

There is a possibility that the MILF rebels have decided to join their families who were also displaced by the fighting. If rough members of the MILF are found seeking refuge in evacuation centers then they would be arrested.

It would be remembered that just two weeks ago, soldiers in Maguindanao arrested three rogue MILF members in an evacuation center in Barangay Sambulawan in Datu Saudi-Ampatuan.

Teodoro said government forces would not think twice about arresting MILF members found hiding in temporary shelters. He also added that such instances merely signified the "looseness of control and structure in the MILF organization."

The defense chief said the military is not losing focus on its pursuit operations against the rebels amid criticisms that the conflict has been dragging on for more than two months and yet none of the rebel commanders have been captured.

The military launched massive pursuit operations against the rebels, who led attacks on civilian communities in North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte and Sarangani last August.

The conflict in Central Mindanao has already claimed the lives of 30 soldiers and 60 civilians; and has displaced thousands of people. (PIA 8)