Armed Forces of the Philippines

Murad says military attacked MILF community, not Dawlah Islamiya

Froilan Gallardo
Murad says military attacked MILF community, not Dawlah Islamiya

INSPECT. Lieutenant General Alfredo Rosario Jr., Western Mindanao Command chief, inspects an improvised M60 machine gun and dozens of other firearms seized by Army troops from Maute-ISIS militants in Lanao del Sur during a visit to Marawi City on Thursday, March 3.

Froilan Gallardo/Rappler

Western Mindanao Command chief Lieutenant General Alfredo Rosario says military is open to an investigation, and would even accompany MILF representatives to Maguing town so they could see area for themselves

MARAWI CITY, Philippines – The Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command on Thursday, March 3, brushed aside claims by Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) interim Chief Minister Ahod “Murad” Ebrahim that the military attacked a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) community and not a Maute-Dawlah Islamiya stronghold in Maguing town, Lanao del Sur this week.

But Lieutenant General Alfredo Rosario, Wesmincom commander, maintained that the military was accurate in its target in the village of Ilalag in Maguing town contrary to the BARMM chief minister and MILF chairman’s pronouncements.

In a March 2 statement, Ebrahim said, “Over the past 24 hours, our dear constituents in Maguing, Lanao del Sur have been troubled by military airstrikes and most recently, firefight incident that involved members of the military and forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.”

Ebrahim said a ceasefire has been agreed upon between the MILF and the military.

“We are optimistic that no further confrontations take place and we get to fully operationalize existing security mechanisms,” he said.

Rosario denied Ebrahim’s pronouncements and asserted that the military launched the offensives against the Maute-Dawlah Islamiyah group. 

Rosario said the military was open to an investigation, and would even accompany MILF representatives and other groups involved in the peace process to Maguing town so they could see the area for themselves.

He said the camp attacked by the military was a kilometer from an MILF camp.

“Our soldiers even passed through the MILF camp before they made the frontal assault on the camp of the militants,” Rosario said.

Under the peace deal between the government and MILF, six camps of the former rebels are recognized and presently under the process of normalization.

Brigadier General Antonio Nafarrete, chairman of the Government of the Philippines – Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (GPH-CCCH), said the MILF camp in Maguing town is not among the six recognized camps.

The six recognized MILF camps are Camps Abubakar as-Sidique in Maguindanao, Bilal in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, Omar ibn al-Khattab in Maguindanao, Rajamuda in North Cotabato and Maguindanao, Badre in Maguindanao, and Busrah Somiorang in Butig, Lanao del Sur.

Nafarrete said the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade also formally informed the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) that there was a Maute-ISIS camp in Maguing and there could be possible future military operations.

He said the Army brigade submitted the information to AHJAG on December 28, 2021. AHJAG is the cooperative mechanism that responds to criminality and terrorism issues in areas with MILF process. – with reports from Herbie Gomez/Rappler.com

Froilan Gallardo is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship