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MILF slams military’s troop deployment as war posturing

/ 05:08 PM July 27, 2014
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Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. AP FILE PHOTO

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) accused the military of war posturing and violating the existing ceasefire agreement by deploying troops “in full battle gear” near rebel-identified areas in Maguindanao.

“This nature of uncoordinated movement can trigger untoward incidents and worse, fierce encounter between the government and MILF forces,” Rasid Ladiasan, head of the MILF ceasefire secretariat, said in a media statement on Saturday.

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Ladiasan said heavy troop movement on the side of the military was monitored near MILF camps in Datu Unsay, Datu Saudi and Datu Piangtowns in Maguindanao starting Saturday morning.

He said the “uncoordinated” massive movements, as reported by MILF field commanders, were monitored in the adjacent villages of Kitango, Tatapan, Kitapok, Maitumaig and Pagatin, which form part of the three towns. Even civilians plying the Cotabato-General Santos Highway also witnessed military trucks moving into the towns, he said.

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Ladiasan pointed out that under the 1997 GPH (Government of the Philippines)-MILF ceasefire accord, massive troop movements in areas near MILF camps should be coordinated with the joint GPH-MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG).

“Clearly any major movement that is not normal administrative functions like this case constitute ceasefire violations when the CCCHs did not coordinate. The government forces know this very well but unfortunately they acted in contravention,” Ladiasan said.

Since the MILF was not informed before hand, it was treating the “uncoordinated” movements as “provocative,” he said.

“We do not want any tension or confrontational situation to grip in between MILF and government forces otherwise we are being remiss with our responsibility,” he said.

“The MILF CCCH is going to file a strong protest on this incident as the proper way to address this situation,” he added.

Ladiasan said the MILF has also appealed to the government ceasefire team, headed by Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., to enhance coordination – especially at this time when the government and MILF have been confronting major challenges on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) following the review and changes made by the government review team in the draft that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) had submitted to Malacañang.

Efforts to reach the military commander, who has jurisdiction over Maguindanao, have repeatedly failed.

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But as early as last week, the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, Col. Dickson Hermoso, had made public the military’s intention to deploy more soldiers against Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters’ gunmen responsible for a series of harassment against government troops in Maguindanao and the nearby province of North Cotabato.

At least 18 people, 17 BIFF men and one soldier, were killed in the violence that started July 21.

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TAGS: Armed conflict, Ceasefire, ceasefire agreement, Insurgency, Military, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro rebellion, News, Peace agreement, peace negotiations, peace process, Peace Talks, Philippine Army, Philippine Government, Rasid Ladiasan, rebellion, Regions, troop deployment
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