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Army general: MILF has no arms manufacturing facility

/ 08:55 PM July 14, 2015

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — The military unit, which has jurisdiction over Central Mindanao and parts of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, has denied the existence of a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) arms manufacturing in its area.

Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the 6th Infantry Division based in Maguindanao, the province where the MILF has been based, said they have repeatedly verified reports about MILF arms factories and they have not found any proof of the claim.

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“Our ground forces have already verified such claims. There is no truth to such allegations,” Pangilinan said.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. claimed last week that some of the firearms the MILF turned over for decommissioning appeared to support reports the rebel group has been maintaining its own manufacturing facility.

“I don’t know, maybe Senator Marcos is receiving information from someone. But to me, my position on the manufacturing of weapons is simple practicality. If your (government) arsenal cannot produce the weapon, how can the MILF produce it?” Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon also said in a statement.

Biazon, a former Marine general, said the weapons turned over by the MILF were too sophisticated to have been locally produced. “They might be able to manufacture crude weapons but not sophisticated ones,” he said.

Earlier, retired Chief Supt. Rodolfo Mendoza, president of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR), also showed at a national TV program photo slides-cum-video documentary of what he said was a clandestine gunsmith shop the MILF operated years ago in Mount Cararao, Lanao del Sur.

Pangilinan said past military actions against the MILF in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur provinces must have long halted the operations of those facilities.

Another shop, also somewhere in Lanao Lake, was like an “open secret,” according to residents. But they told journalists it was like a branch of the growing gun manufacturing industry which has been “almost legalized” in Danao, Cebu, and was not run by the MILF.

“As far as the command is concerned, there are no weapons facilities that the MILF is maintaining in our area of jurisdiction,” Pangilinan said.

He said the last known MILF firearms factory was seized in 2000 by the military and there had been no report of a similar facility since.

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The MILF turned over last month 75 high-powered and crew-service weapons and also decommissioned 145 combatants.

Retired Lt. Gen. Rey Ardo, a member of the Turkish-led Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB), said “based on my experience and competency as a retired general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), these are the original weapons used by the MILF in their fight with the government.”

“These were clearly not manufactured for the sake of the ceremonial decommissioning,” he said, adding that the firearms had been closely inspected by the IDB.

Ardo said Marcos, who did not attend the turnover, “could have seen the weapons first hand if only he attended the decommissioning last June 16.”

Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said the information should be verified before being disseminated to the public.

“With regard the allegation that the MILF is manufacturing arms, we also do not want this to happen, so those with information should report to the AFP and the PNP or ceasefire committee so that we can take action,” she said.

Brig. Gen. Manolito Orense, chair of the government’s Ad hoc Joint Action Group (Ahjag), said they were willing to validate reports on weapons manufacturing.

But he added that so far, they have not received any information that an MILF arms manufacturing facility has been operating despite the peace process.

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TAGS: 6th Infantry Division, Ad Hoc Joint Action Group, Armed Forces of the Philippines, arms manufacturing facility, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Central Mindanao, Edmundo Pangilinan, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., House of Representatives, Independent Decommissioning Body, Maguindanao, Manolito Orense, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, news, peace process, Philippine Army, Philippine Congress, Philippine Institute for Peace, Philippine National Police, Regions, Rey Ardo, Rodolfo Biazon, Rodolfo Mendoza, Senate, Violence and Terrorism Research
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