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‘Tension brewing between Army, MILF fighters in Lanao Norte over BBL shelving’

/ 07:58 PM February 01, 2016

COTABATO CITY – Tension is brewing between government security forces and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who are reportedly massing up in Lanao del Norte province.

Von Al Haq, spokesperson of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone that he received a report of tensions around 2 p.m. Monday and immediately alerted their members in the group’s ceasefire committee to defuse the tension.

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Al Haq said the Philippine Army’s 15th Infantry Battalion and the 2nd Mechanized Brigade based in Kauswagan town have allegedly warned forces of Commander Abdullah Macapaar, also known as Bravo, of an offensive.

“We have alerted our ceasefire team to immediately go to the area now. We hope we can patch this up,” Al Haq said.

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A Philippine Daily Inquirer source said the military wanted Bravo to leave Kausawagan and go back to Lanao del Sur.

The military reportedly positioned themselves in the village of Dilabayan. The military could not be reached for comment.

In 2008, Bravo and then MILF 105th Base Command Ameril Umra Kato simultaneously launched attacks in Mindanao, particularly Lanao del Norte, after the Supreme Court ruled that the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) signed between the Arroyo administration and the MILF was unconstitutional. The MOA -AD would have been the basis for a Bangsamoro juridical entity or a new autonomous region.

In Maguindanao, the MILF has advised their disappointed young fighters to calm down over Congress’ apparent refusal to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), that would have paved the way for a new political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF first vice chair for political affairs, told a local radio station Monday that leaders of groups of disappointed young people came to them and asked them to declare war against the national government.

“We told them not to,” Jaafar said.

“The best way to solve the problem is through negotiation,” he said.

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Last week, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said that the BBL no longer had a chance of being passed in the 16th Congress.

Belmonte said that the House of Representatives has approved the bill but the Senate has not acted on its version of the BBL.

On March 27, 2014, the administration of President Aquino and MILF peace negotiators signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that provided for the passage of the BBL that would pave the way for the creation of a new Bangsamoro autonomous region with powers of a substate.  SFM

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