No clashes for 6 months: All quiet on the MILF front | Inquirer News
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No clashes for 6 months: All quiet on the MILF front

MARVIC LEONEN PHOTO BY LYN RILLON

Six months into 2012 and there remains no recorded clashes between government forces and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the chairman of the government peace panel claimed Wednesday.

“The ceasefire is holding,” said lawyer Marvic Leonen, noting that the last armed encounter between the two belligerents was the massacre in Al Barka, Basilan, in October 2011.

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Nineteen soldiers were killed and 18 others injured when an Army unit was ambushed by MILF rebels led by Laksaw Dan Asnawi in Al Barka.

Instead of abrogating the ceasefire and ordering the military to go after the perpetrators, President Benigno Aquino launched what he called a campaign for “all-out justice” against the  “lawless elements” responsible for the massacre of government soldiers.

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Citing a report prepared by the GPH Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, Leonen said there were 14 clashes with the MILF in 2010 and only eight in 2011. After the Al-Barka incident, he said “there has been no more.”

No spillover

“There was no spillover of the [Al Barka] incident,” Leonen said.

According to figures released by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, there were 698 armed encounters with the MILF in 2002. There were only eight in 2011 and none in 2012.

In between, there were 569 in 2003, 16 in 2004, 10 in 2005, 13 in 2006, eight in 2007, 218 in 2008, 115 in 2009 and 14 in 2010.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) attributed the rise in the number of clashes in 2008 to the foiled Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD).

The MOA-AD, which was secretly negotiated by the previous Arroyo administration with the MILF and would have created a Muslim substate in Mindanao, was subsequently ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

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The Opapp said the improvements on the ground have been complemented by national and international studies.

It cited the 2012 Global Peace Index, in which the Philippines was among the top five nations to have registered “improvements in peacefulness.” The four others were Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Bhutan and Guyana.

It said the Philippines’ high score was a result of improvements in the indicators, which are the homicide rate, the number of deaths from internal conflict, the likelihood of violent demonstrations, and the incidence of terrorist acts.

Opapp also said Pulse Asia’s Ulat ng Bayan National Survey, conducted from May 20 to 26, indicated that 50 percent of respondents approve of the Aquino administration’s efforts in promoting peace.

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TAGS: Government, Insurgency, Marvic Leonen, MILF, Military, Mindanao peace process
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