3 MILF fighters nabbed in Sultan Kudarat

One of the fighters was carrying an assault rifle, the first violation of a local peace covenant between the MILF, the LGU, and the 33rd Infantry Battalion

CULTURALLY ROOTED. For some MILF soldiers, it's hard to part with their guns after decades of armed rebellion. Photo by Adrian Portugal

MANILA, Philippines – The military on Tuesday, November 26, nabbed 3 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters, one of whom was found to be carrying an M653 Elisco assault rifle when they sought to pass through a checkpoint at the Pimbalayan detachment in Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat.

It was the first violation of a local peace covenant signed on November 6 by the MILF, the local government, and the 33rd Infantry Batallion (33IB). Under the covenant, only the military and the police are allowed to carry firearms.

The 3 are barangay officials and members of the 108th Base Command of the MILF Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF):

  • Joel Hak A Maneged, 25, chairman of Barangay Panosolen in the town of General Salipada K. Pendatun, Maguindanao
  • Amad K Baraguir, 46, councilor of the same barangay
  • Kamarudin Dausi, councilor of the same barangay

The 3 were first turned over to the Joint Coordinating Committees on Cessation of Hostilities (JCCCH-GPH-MILF) in Maguindanao and then later to the MILF Command, which is tasked under the agreement to punish its own members for violating existing agreements with the government. 

“This unauthorized carrying of firearms is in violation of the operational guidelines and ground rules set forth in the ceasefire agreement between the Government of the Philippines Coordinating Committees on Cessation of Hostilities (GPH CCCH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front Coordinating Committees on Cessation of Hostilities (MILF CCCH),” said Captain Deoreynojay Maniwang, civil military operations officer of the 33rd infantry battalion based in Sultan Kudarat.

Maniwang said the MILF cooperated with their arrest. He said they agreed that it should serve as a reminder to other members to follow the covenant. The 3 arrested fighters supposedly did not expect the strict implementation of the new covenant. 

The government and the MILF are finalizing a peace agreement that will make way for a new Bangsamoro entity, expanding the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Maniwang said they have high hopes that the local peace covenant can rid of violence in the 33IB’s area of operations. Encounters are common between the military and “lawless armed groups,” especially with Umbra Kato and his men who have turned the area into a haven. 

Maniwang said the local peace covenant also calls on the residents not to coddle Kato’s men.

The 33IB is commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Markton Abo. – Rappler.com