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National

Aquino admits giving MILF P5M, tells rebels to account for money

President Aquino and MILF chairman Al Haj Ebrahim Murad during their meeting in Tokyo in August.

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE, 3 p.m.) President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday admitted that the government gave the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) P5 million, but said it will ask the MILF leadership to account for the money.
 
“The government, through (chief peace negotiator) Marvic Leonen, is asking for accountability. We will be expecting some report on the outcome of the P5 million and where it went. We hope the MILF will clarify this part,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
 
Lacierda said the amount will be used to establish the Bangsamoro Management and Leadership Institute to “train future Bangsamoro leaders.”
 
Government chief negotiator Marvic Leonen turned over the P5 million check to MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim during the formal exploratory talks held in Kuala Lumpur on Aug. 22-23.
 
Leonen, in a separate statement, dismissed reports that the money was used to buy guns and ammunition “as alleged by a malicious text message.”
 
Leonen said the BLMI was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission that enabled it to receive assistance from donor institutions such as the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
 
JICA gave funds for the construction of the building that will house the institute. In 2000, Asia Foundation provided support for a series of workshops to draw up the vision and organizational structure of the BLMI.
 
“We will not let false reports undermine the peace process. I urge the public to stay heedful of what is happening and analytical of the information that they receive,” Leonen said.
 
"The P5 million is a commitment made by the previous administration. It is intended to fast-track the establishment of the institute," he added.
 
Leonen's statement came after text messages circulating said the money was used to buy guns and ammunition for the MILF.
 
He said that the establishment of the BLMI was also discussed during negotiations at the 10th formal exploratory talks in February 2006.
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