Aquino rejects calls for all-out war vs. MILF

Thea Alberto-Masakayan
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

Lest more lives get endangered, President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III refused to heed calls for an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Addressing the country in a live press conference, Aquino said an all-out war will only generate greater "ill will" between parties involved in the peace process.

"We will not pursue an all out war, we will instead pursue all out justice," Aquino said.

Aquino said while it is "so easy to close the door to negotiations," going down the path of war will only put more civilians in danger.

Aquino said his decisions as Armed Forces of the Philippines Commander-in-Chief cannot be "borne out of ignorance," and that the government must have a focus on whether to go after the rogue members of the MILF or the whole group.

"We have to exhaust all possibilities for attaining peace through dialogue," added Aquino.

But while he sticks to the peace talks, Aquino firmly said efforts to pursue the Mindanao gunfight perpetrators will continue, regardless of their affinity.
"
Aquino said they already sent a message to MILF that "we are not out to get them, but if they have members who participate in sowing chaos, laws will have to be imposed."

"I have instructed intensified operations against all these criminal elements. There is no question the state will find them, the only remaining question is when," Aquino added.

Demoralization in the military

Aquino said that what critics tagged as the "demoralization in the military" was merely grief over the death of dozens of soldiers.

"[The slain solders have] the deepest respect of their commander-in-chief and utmost gratitude from the state," Aquino said.

"All of us are grieving," he added.