MILF uproots, burns marijuana in remote North Cotabato village
(Philstar.com) - August 7, 2016 - 11:20am
NORTH COTABATO, Philippines -- Moro rebels burned over the weekend hundreds of marijuana shrubs they uprooted in a clandestine operation in keeping with their 1997 anti-crime cooperation pact with the government.
 
The guerrilla-style uprooting operation in Sitio Sinipitan in Barangay Tupig northwest of Carmen town in North Cotabato was led by two senior leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Nayang Timan and Abdullah Hamza.
 
Timan and Hamza and their followers carried out the raid after learning from vigilant villagers that a certain group was growing marijuana plants in Sitio Sinipitan.
 
Nhor Gayak, a Cotabato City-based radio reporter who witnessed the operation, said he and the MILF guerrillas had to walk through open fields with rugged terrain to reach the marijuana farm.
 
Gayak had quoted the MILF commanders who led the raid as saying the move was in compliance with their July 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities with the government.
 
The accord, meant to ensure the cordiality of the peace overture between the government and the rebel group, binds both sides to cooperate in addressing peace and security problems in potential flashpoint areas where there are MILF forces.
 
The agreement also enjoins MILF and government forces to help each other in neutralizing criminal gangs and terrorists whose activities can derail the peace process.
 
Gayak said the guerrillas immediately set on fire the uprooted marijuana plants in the presence of community elders and barangay residents.
 
Local MILF units are now trying to locate the gunmen behind the propagation of the illegal plants, who managed to escape even before Timan's and Hamza's groups had surrounded their farm.
 
The MILF’s central committee ordered guerrilla forces last year to address the drug problems besetting isolated areas covered by its agreement with the government.
 
The order was issued after clerics in the MILF issued a fatwah (edict) declaring methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) as “haram” (forbidden) to Muslims.

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