Lanao Del Sur

Officials protest MILF peace pact violations in Lanao del Sur

Merlyn Manos
Officials protest MILF peace pact violations in Lanao del Sur
MILF members raid a house for a supposed anti-drug law enforcement operation, fire guns, threaten villagers, and engage in looting, according to officials

LANAO DEL NORTE, Philippines – Officials protested a raid and alleged looting carried out by a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) group in a town in Lanao del Sur, saying the acts breached the peace pact and agreement on the general cessation of hostilities.

The complaint was raised by Brigadier General Eduardo Gubat, the chairman of the government’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (GPH-CCCH), in a communication sent to the MILF.

He sent the communication on Tuesday, November 8, a day before the government and the MILF agreed on a truce to diffuse the rising tension following two days of fighting in Basilan, another province in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Officials said 150 MILF members raided the home of a former barangay chairman, fired their guns, and threatened to kill villagers on November 6.

It was supposed to be an anti-drug law enforcement operation by the group led by Esmael Sarip Cosain, something the MILF and its members were not authorized to do, officials said.

The group of Cosain, known as Commander Delta, is under the 1st Brigade of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) based in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao, Gubat said.

He said villagers also complained of losing their money and their belongings in the subsequent lootings.

He said at least 10 of the raiders were identified as fugitives with pending arrest warrants.

Cosain’s group reportedly barged into the house of former barangay chairman Alex Abdullah Sampiano in Upper Calilangan in Balabagan town, looking for the ex-official and his two sons Saddat and Mutelano.

Failing to find the Sampianos, the armed group fired their guns and threatened villagers, according to Gubat.

He said the same group did the same thing on October 9.

Gubat sent Butch Malang, the chairman of the MILF-CCCH, copies of letters from the local government of Balabagan, police, and Task Force Central, all protesting the acts of BIAF-MILF members.

Colonel Billy dela Rosa, the commander of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade, said he met with BARMM Member of Parliament Jannati Mimbantas because they were alarmed about the actions of the BIAF-MILF members in Lanao del Sur.

Dela Rosa said authorities were worried that villagers would retaliate, and start hostilities similar to what happened in Basilan.

On Wednesday, November 9, the government and the MILF signed a ceasefire agreement in Basilan to end the fighting between BIAF-MILF members and soldiers in the province.

The truce came after two days of hostilities between government and MILF forces in Ungkaya Pukan town that spilled over to neighboring areas in Basilan. 

At least seven people were killed in the Basilan fighting, and nearly 1,500 families fled their homes. – Rappler.com

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