GPH tells MILF to stop clan wars to move peace process forward PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 09 April 2012 14:19

With assurance of the government’s sincerity in the ongoing peace talks, a senior military adviser has asked anew the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to discipline their troops to stop the clan wars or “rido” for the peace process to move forward.

“We will never stop urging the MILF to control their warring forces and help settle family disputes even before they can escalate to violence,” said Brig. Gen. Leo Cresente Ferrer, senior military adviser to the Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel negotiating with the MILF.

Ferrer echoed the call following two “rido” clashes that erupted in Barangay Damalibi in Sharif Aguak, Maguindanao and in Barangay Balabac in Pikit, North Cotabato last Thursday morning.

The military adviser said that the MILF should maintain peace on the ground as a show of sincerity to the peace process.

Ferrer urged the MILF “to work with the government in bringing peace in Mindanao. We would like to believe that the MILF is as sincere as the government when it comes to the peace negotiations,” Ferrer said.

“We would like to see that sincerity reflected on the ground as well, by knowing that the MILF can control their troops from going into armed clashes again in the future,” he added.

Recently, news reports surfaced that some elements of the MILF expressed doubt on the signing of a peace pact under the Aquino administration.
But Ferrer assured that “the government wants a peace agreement with the MILF, but we also want to see them prove that they can work with us in keeping the peace.”

He said the MILF hierarchy should discipline their troops to put an end to their internal armed conflicts.

Some 100 families fled their homes after fighting erupted anew between rival groups in the MILF.

The Philippine Army has deployed soldiers in areas in Central Mindanao where clan wars have erupted to help maintain law and order.

The troops come from the Army’s 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion (IB) and the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade of the Light Armor Division.

The GPH Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) said that fighting last Thursday first erupted between the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) led by Commander Rutin and the MILF’s 118th Base Command (BC), Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), headed by Commander Otok whose nephew was killed during the fighting caused by land dispute.

“The GPH-CCCH has already informed the army unit and the MILF-CCCH about the fighting,” Ferrer said, adding that they have already requested the MILF-CCCH to direct the 118th BC to cease the fighting and leave the area once the BIFF elements have withdrawn.”

The BIFF is a breakaway group of the MILF led by rogue commander Ustadz Ameril Umra Kato. The BIAF is the official armed wing of the MILF.
Ferrer also said army troops were requested to establish checkpoints along the highway to deter encroachment of reinforcing troops from both sides.

The second infighting broke out between the group of Mando Mandalait, and a certain Commander Lugom of the MILF 108th BC, BIAF, with reinforcement from the group of Ibrahim Tan-ao who is under Kagui Samir of the MILF National Guard Front Command.

Other than land disputes, the other causes of the infighting among MILF forces are personal grudge and politics.

According to an MILF source, “initiatives to resolve the feud were done by the MILF but it was not sustained due to personal grudge and political connections that has long been rooted in ‘patayan’ or murder.

The GPH-CCCH, MILF-CCCH, Cotabato Local Monitoring Team and the 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army are working together to stop the fighting and restore peace.