Cops, soldiers ‘pacify’ warring Moro troops | Inquirer News
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Cops, soldiers ‘pacify’ warring Moro troops

/ 08:23 PM May 20, 2013

COTABATO CITY—Police and Army personnel are now standing in between warring Moro rebel groups in a remote village here while top-level efforts to address misunderstanding are underway.

Captain Tony Bulao, spokesperson of the 602nd Infantry Brigade, said both sides agreed to respect the low-level agreement that brought about normalcy in Barangay Marbel.

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“Skirmishes have stopped as both forces agreed to refrain from attacking or issuing provocative statements to each other,” Bulao said.

Bulao, however, said the Army monitored the movement of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces around barangays Kilada, Marbel and Elian, all in Matalam, North Cotabato, and known bailiwick of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

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The conflict started on May 5 when the MILF, along with representatives from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, was to hold an advocacy forum on the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement in Barangay Marbel.

Since the area is a known MNLF peace zone after it signed a peace deal with Manila in 1996, Datu Dima Ambil, an MNLF commander, requested the MILF not to bring firearms or wear military uniform.

“But the MILF brought firearms and wore fatigue uniforms, acts that insulted Ambil,” Bulao said, adding that it triggered armed skirmishes.

On May 16, more MILF forces arrived in the area and firefight ensued, Bulao said.

MILF 108th base command leader Kagi Mansur accused the MNLF of attacking their forces.

An MILF member was killed on May 5 while two MILF fighters were hurt in the May 16 firefight. Civilians, who are families of MNLF fighters, fled to safer grounds.

Ambil accused the MILF of violating the local truce, while Mansur accused the Army of siding with the MNLF.

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Bulao said the government forces did not take sides and maintained its neutrality for the sake of civilians and the future of the peace process.

“Why did the MILF carry firearms and shoulder-fired rocket-propelled grenades if they were only to hold peace advocacy program in an MNLF territory? Only the MILF can answer that,” Bulao said.

Police and Army Special Forces backed by four armored personnel carriers had secured about 300 families in Barangay Marbel.

The MILF is calling on the military to remain a buffer force and take actions only when the two sides  start fighting again.

Bulao said the Army insisted in putting up buffer forces in between the feuding parties to ensure that no untoward incident would happen while work for peaceful resolutions is underway.

Officials of the joint coordinating committee on the cessation of hostilities have started laying down rules to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Both MNLF and MILF forces stressed that the conflict was not organizational but more of a “misunderstanding” among local forces. Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: Mindanao conflict, Moro National Liberation Front, Moro rebels, News, Regions
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