Military urges pullout of ‘non-resident’ MILF forces
John Unson (Philstar.com) - September 17, 2015 - 1:38am

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - The military on Thursday recommended the pullout of “non-resident” forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in areas beset with clan wars involving local protagonists identified with the group.

Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat, commander of the 1st Marine Brigade based in Lebak town in Sultan Kudarat province, said efforts to settle bloody family feuds easily becomes complicated with the presence of “outsiders” siding with MILF members involved in conflicts.

Police officials agreed the presence of MILF reinforcements from far areas to help their companions fight adversaries worsens tension among parties to the conflict and leads to displacement of villagers.

Salamat, who had facilitated the peaceful resolution of several clan wars in recent months, along with local officials, shared his view on the issue during a police-military peace forum Thursday at the headquarters of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) in Camp Siongco in Datu Odin town in Maguindanao.

The forum was jointly presided over by the commander of 6th ID, Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan and his deputy, Brig. Gen. Noli Orense.

Also present in the event were Vice Mayor Ibrahim Macasayon and Mayor Abubacar Pendatun Maulana of Lutayan and Palimbang towns in Sultan Kudarat and the provincial police director in the province, Senior Superintendent Danny Reyes.

MILF forces had figured in recent hostilities with rival clans in Lutayan and Palimbang towns, which caused the displacement of hundreds of impoverished peasant families.

Pangilinan, who was deputy commander for peace process of the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City before he assumed as 6th ID commander last year, said the forum was meant to build consensus between the military and the police on how to expedite the resolution of clan wars in Central Mindanao to deescalate tension in troublesome areas during the forthcoming election period.

“Generally we all want peace at all times, regardless of whether there is an election period or none. It is part of the security concerns we aim to address in this forum,” Pangilinan told The STAR.

Pangilinan said the immediate settlement of conflicts involving local Moro clans will forestall hostilities in areas where protagonists are identified with local political quarters.

Pangilinan said it is important to involve the ceasefire committee of the MILF and the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) in resolving clan wars.

“We have a peace process governed by security protocols that we need to uphold,” Pangilinan said.

Public officials have long been complaining on what is for them abusive interference by non-resident guerilla forces whenever hostilities between local MILF forces and their adversaries erupt, in total disregard of the provisions of their 1997 interim ceasefire accord with the national government.

MILF guerillas from the towns of Mangudadatu and Buluan, both in Maguindanao, reportedly arrived in Barangay Bayasong in Lutayan town to reinforce Commander Guiamandin and his men as they figured in an encounter with a group led by a village chieftain named Falcon Bansil.

Macasayon, who is a member of the Lutayan municipal peace and order council, said he is thankful negotiators from the IMT and the joint ceasefire committee for helping disengage the feuding groups, whose exchanges of gunfire left three barangay watchmen and Bansil wounded.

Maulana said some of the commanders of seven combined groups who figured in hostilities with rival barangay officials in Napnapun in Palimbang last August also belong to the MILF.

Maulana said Palimbang’s local government unit wants the dispute settled for good to prevent the recurring displacement of innocent civilians in Barangay Napnapun and nearby villages.

Pangilinan said they will welcome the participation of peace-advocacy groups and non-government organizations in the resolution of clan wars in towns inside the area of 6th ID.

The 6th ID and the governor of Maguindanao, Esmael Mangudadatu, settled more than 30 clan wars in the past 24 months with the help of NGOs and religious groups.

“We need the support of religious communities in addressing these family feuds,” Pangilinan said. 

ACIRC BARANGAY BAYASONG BARANGAY NAPNAPUN CAMP SIONGCO CENTRAL MINDANAO COMMANDER GUIAMANDIN MAGUINDANAO MILF NBSP PANGILINAN SULTAN KUDARAT
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