MILF men yield high-powered guns at Maguindanao checkpoint | Inquirer News

MILF men yield high-powered guns at Maguindanao checkpoint

/ 06:05 AM February 22, 2018

KORONADAL CITY — Government soldiers manning a checkpoint in Sultan sa Barongis town in Mindanao, held a group of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members and seized their firearms on Tuesday night, police said.

Police said a truck carrying more than 20 MILF members, led by a commander identified as Orly Gampong, was stopped as it was entering Sultan sa Barongis at 6:15 p.m., said Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, the Maguindanao police director.

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Tello could not say where the rebels came from or what their purpose was in entering Sultan sa Barongis. According to reports, however, two MILF factions have been fighting in Ampatuan town, which shares borders with Sultan sa Barongis.

Among the 24 firearms that soldiers belonging to the Army’s 40th Infantry Battalion recovered from Gampong’s group were 18 M-16 Armalite rifles and an M-203 grenade launcher.

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But Tello said the Moro rebels were later allowed to leave after their case was referred for investigation to the MILF ceasefire committee.

Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, spokesperson for the military-led antiterror Task Force Central, said Gampong belonged to the MILF’s 106th Base Command, some of whose members were involved in clashes in Ampatuan that were triggered by a territorial dispute.

“Our ceasefire committees [under the government and MILF panels negotiating peace] are investigating their motive in bringing guns without prior coordination, which is prescribed by the protocols of the ceasefire agreement,” Besana said.

Crackdown

Lt. Col. Alvin Iyog, commander of the Army’s 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion based in Datu Salibo town in Maguindanao, said the military had been campaigning against the proliferation of unlicensed firearms, which had worsened the peace and order situation in the area.

He said the crackdown on loose firearms had prompted a number of residents, including some local officials, to surrender their unlicensed guns to authorities. —REPORTS FROM JEOFFREY MAITEM AND ANDY OROBIA

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TAGS: High-powered guns, Maguindanao checkpoints, MILF
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