Close  

Government-MILF war over, says AFP chief

/ 07:23 AM October 08, 2018
Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Carlito Galvez Jr.

Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., AFP chief of staff, gives a memento to MILF chief Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim in Camp Darapanan in Maguindanao on Saturday. (Photo by FERDINANDH CABRERA / Inquirer Mindanao)

The military chief has declared the war between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) over.

Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, visited the MILF’s Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao province, on Saturday to make the declaration, ending a decadeslong conflict that had cost thousands of lives and impoverished resource-rich Mindanao.

ADVERTISEMENT

To campaign for BOL

Galvez also promised to campaign for ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) after his retirement in December.

FEATURED STORIES

Passed by Congress and signed by President Duterte in July, the BOL would establish an expanded autonomous region for Muslim in Mindanao.

Galvez became the first military chief to make a visit to the seat of the MILF leadership.

He received a warm welcome from the MILF, the largest Muslim armed group in Mindanao that signed a peace agreement with the government in 2014.

The peace deal led to the passage of the BOL, which would be submitted to the people of Mindanao for approval in referendum in January.

The military and the MILF have been observing a ceasefire since the start of peace negotiations in the early 2000s.

The MILF began decommissioning its weapons after the signing of the BOL into law.

Galvez traveled to Camp Darapanan to formally declare the war with the MILF over.

ADVERTISEMENT

Deserved peace

Addressing military troops and MILF fighters, Galvez said: “Today I can now declare that the war between the armed forces and the MILF is finally over. To my commanders, let us embrace our brothers and sisters and give them respect and lasting peace that the Moro people deserve.”

Accompanying Galvez on the visit were Lt. Gen. Arnel de la Vega, chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command; and Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the 6th Infantry Division.

Galvez served as chair of the government ceasefire panel, helping to defuse tensions between the military and the rebels during the negotiations for a peace agreement.

Sammy Al-Mansour, MILF chief of staff, said Galvez had visited Camp Darapanan many times as head of the government’s ceasefire panel.

“Today I came back to one of the most revered place[s], a place I can call home because here live those gallant men I consider my brethren, those whom I have been working with for a peaceful Mindanao,” Galvez said.

‘Soldier of Peace’ award

MILF chief Murad Ebrahim led the rebels in welcoming Galvez and presented to the military chief a “Soldier of Peace” award, the first time the rebel group honored a military officer.

“This visit represents the degree of progress we have made over the years in bringing significant cooperation and avoiding confrontation among us Filipinos,” Murad said.

Galvez and his troops entered Camp Darapanan unarmed.

More than 6,000 MILF fighters provided security as the military officials and troops rode into the camp.

Galvez described the MILF preparation for his visit as “an amazing gesture of love.”

“As we are coming here, I was overwhelmed by the kind gesture of the MILF brothers and sisters, young and old, standing along the winding road waiting [for] our long convoy to pass by,” he said.

“I will not forget that I was given so much importance . . . that was the longest honor given to me and probably in the history of giving honors to visiting guests,” he added.

Galvez retires on Dec. 12.

Contribution to peace

He promised the MILF that he would campaign for ratification of the BOL after leaving the service.

“Starting Dec. 12, once I hang my uniform, I will campaign for a yes vote to the [BOL] as my contribution to the Mindanao peace process,” he said to applause from MILF fighters.

“I will help in the challenges facing the BOL. We will solve it. Together we will make it happen,” he added. —With a report from Edwin Fernandez

Read Next
LATEST STORIES
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: AFP, Bangsamoro Organic Law, BOL, Carlito Galvez Jr., MILF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2019 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.