MILF lauds Sotto over narco-terror issue

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has welcomed the clarification made by Dangerous Drugs Board chairman Vicente C. Sotto III regarding the issue of “narco-terrorism” that allegedly involved the extremist group.

Eid Kabalu, the MILF spokesman, expressed his gratitude to Secretary Sotto for clarifying the issue that the extremist rebels (MILF) has been involved in marijuana plantations and cultivation.

“Thank you very much, we know Senator Sotto as a person who would not accuse without basis and we admire him in our group, thank you very much honorable Senator,” Kabalu said.

Sotto explained that he never mentioned anything about the MILF involvement in marijuana plantation in Mindanao, particularly in Lanao and Bukidnon. He believed that he was misquoted by some reporters, who interviewed him in Iligan City, when he visited the groundbreaking of DDB funded rehabilitation center last Nov. 28.

“I did not even mention any group like MILF, NPA, or Abu Sayyaf as involved in illegal drugs,” Sotto stressed, adding that what happened is a clear example of irresponsible reporting.

Sotto only remembered discussing before the media about the military operation wherein they were able to over-run terrorist rebels and discovered sachets of shabu but not pointing to MILF or any group.

Sotto also said that he only mention narco-terrorism as different thing compared to narco-politics. He pointed out that he will not allow narco-politics under his watch while the narco-terrorism is present in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and areas in The Golden Crescent where opium poppies, which is the source of heroin come from.

On December 3, MILF posted to its website Luwaran a statement that asked Sotto to be very careful in making statements that are unfounded and baseless that defiles the integrity of the MILF.

Khaled Musa, deputy chairman of the MILF committee on information, said the MILF also launched regular campaign to stop this drug trafficking and made several arrests of drug lords in Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao.

Meanwhile, Sotto has urged government agencies and local government units to join forces in a concerted effort to eradicate marijuana plantation and cultivation sites following the report that 16 marijuana plantations are still present in the country.

Last Nov. 7 and 9, the joint operatives of PDEA, PNP, and Philippine Air Force (PAF) have discovered and successfully cleared 6 marijuana plantation and cultivation sites in La Union and Benguet province worth P28-million under the “Oplan Apol Green Scorpio” and on November 8, the PDEA also discovered and cleared another marijuana plantation in Maimbung, Sulu.