Basilan

Government, MILF forge truce in Basilan

Herbie Gomez
Government, MILF forge truce in Basilan

Janina Malinis / Rappler

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. says he is confident that the agreement would hold

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on Thursday, November 9, signed a ceasefire agreement, a move seen to put a stop to two days of fighting between the military and an MILF group in Basilan.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) announced that the agreement was signed in Basilan by members of the government and MILF’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), and military officials.

“We are happy to announce that a ceasefire agreement has been signed by the GPH and MILF, which brings to an end the armed encounter between government troops and MILF forces,” said David Diciano, head of the OPAPRU’s Bangsamoro Transformation Program. 

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said he was confident that the agreement would hold.

“We are also hopeful that armed clashes such as these will not happen again so as not to undermine the major gains we have achieved under the Bangsamoro peace process,” Galvez said.

The agreement was reached following two days of fighting between government and MILF forces in the town of Ungkaya Pukan that spilled over to neighboring municipalities in Basilan.

The hostilities alarmed officials given the peace settlement between the government and MILF that resulted in the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The military counted three soldiers dead while BARMM Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal, the chairman of the MILF peace implementing panel, said at least four MILF members were killed in the hostilities since Tuesday, November 8.

The hostilities started past noon on Tuesday when MILF members led by Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) 114th Base commander Huram Malangka returned to Ulitan, their village, fully armed.

The military said the return had been coordinated, but Malangka’s group was asked beforehand not to arm themselves.

Brigadier General Domingo Gobway, the commander of the 101st Brigade, said soldiers were fired upon when they went to the village to negotiate with Malangka’s group, and it was followed by more MILF offensives in the towns of Ungkaya Pukan, Sumisip, and Tipo-Tipo.

The parties agreed to inform the BIAF’s 114th Base Command and government troops to hold their fire because of the agreement, cause the withdrawal of MILF reinforcements, and allow the group of Malangka and his companions to stay in the village of Ulitan on condition that they would keep their weapons in their houses until their decommissioning.

They also agreed to make soldiers and the MILF set up a joint detachment to keep the village peaceful and orderly.

Signing the Basilan agreement on behalf of the government were Gobway, GPH-CCCH chairman Brigadier General Eduardo Gubat, Western Mindanao Command acting chief Brigadier General Antonio Rojas, GPH-AHJAG Team 3 leader Colonel Frederick Sales, and 18th Infantry Battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Cyril Santander.

The MILF signatories were MILF-CCCH chair Butch Malang, MILF-AHJAG chair Anwar Alamada, MILF-CCCH staff Hadji Ahaddin, and BIAF acting chief Malik Caril. – with reports from Ferdinandh Cabrera / Rappler.com

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