Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin welcomed the suspension that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) imposed on three of its commanders for the deadly encounter in Al Barkah, Basilan, despite finding the sanction “very light.”

“Kahit very light ‘yung punishment na binigay, at least gumalaw sila, in-acknowledge na nagkamali sila,” Gazmin told reporters in an interview Thursday.

The defense chief made the remark after MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal announced that the rebel group suspended three commanders of its armed wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, for the Oct. 18 clash.

Among those suspended were BIAF 114th Base Command sub-commander Dan Laksaw Asnawi, whose men were involved in the fighting.

“We suspended three commanders… we suspended them for three months and then they are told to undertake education especially on the ceasefire agreement,” Iqbal said Wednesday.

“The fact that we punished our commanders is an indication that we also agree that the MILF had violated (the ceasefire),” Iqbal added.

Days after the clash, the military relieved from their posts four ranking Army officials for allegedly failing to coordinate a manhunt operation with the MILF. The four are now facing possible court martial proceedings.

“Lack of coordination” between both sides was blamed for the clash, which left 19 government soldiers and five rebel fighters dead amid their ongoing ceasefire.

“Kahit papaano, light man o heavy, at least nagre-react sila (MILF). In other words gumagalaw ang hustisya, kahit sa kanila,” Gazmin said of the MILF’s sanction on its men. (John Roson)

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