Army, LGUs mull fluvial parade to display support for FAB PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 17 January 2013 14:56

Central Mindanao’s Muslim and Christian folks are to witness on January 29 a parade of hundreds of watercrafts through a historic river connecting the legendary ilod and raya areas of the flooded plains of Maguindanao in yet another show of support to the on-going talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The geographical identity ilod means the downstream area of the marshy Maguindanao, while raya refers to the upper delta of the province.

The fluvial parade, organized by the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, the provincial government of Maguindanao, and local officials in different towns, is to be participated by members of the MILF residing in areas straddled through by the Butilen-Tamontaka river, where big rivers that spring from mountain ranges in the adjoining Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato provinces fuse together, draining downstream into the Moro gulf at the western side of Cotabato City.

Organizers said President Benigno Aquino III has been invited to witness the fluvial parade, which is to kick off a sports competition among soldiers, policemen and MILF guerillas at Camp Siongco in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, newly-installed spokesman of 6th ID, said they are grateful to non-government organizations, local officials, led by Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, peace advocacy outfits and the MILF for helping them plan out the event.

Local officials in the first district of Maguindanao pegged to no less than 500 their initial estimate of the motorized bancas and paddle-driven watercrafts to participate in the fluvial parade.

Hermoso said the office Mangudadatu and the league of mayors in the province have also been helping impose security measures meant to ensure the safety of Moro folks to participate in the activity.

“We are grateful to the leadership of Maguindanao province, the joint GPH-MILF coordinating committee on the cessation of hostilities, NGOs, the religious and traditional leaders and the Philippine National Police for helping in this `peace endeavor’ which is a showcase of strong cooperation among all sectors helping build lasting peace in this part of the country,” Hermoso said.

The activity is a “brainchild” of the 6th ID’s commander, Major Gen. Caesar Ronnie Ordoyo, in support of the October 15, 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB), according to Hermoso.

The Fluvial parade will start at Butilen area in Kabuntalan town in the first district of Maguindanao. Participants are to eventually converge at the downstream channel of the Tamontaka river, that connects to the

Moro Gulf at the western coast of Cotabato City, near the Sultan Bolkiah Grand Mosque.

The Butilen-Tamontaka waterway was once a navigable shipping route used by the Spaniards from the 16th to the 18th century, which led them to dry lands in what are now chartered towns of Datu Piang, Rajah Buayan and Sultan sa Barongis, where they established garrisons, that were eventually overran by Moro warriors led by ethnic Maguindanaon datus.

Preceding the January 29 fluvial parade and the government-MILF sports competition at Camp Siongco was the huge FAB forum in Buluan town in Maguindanao which Mangudadatu’s office organized. The forum, attended by thousands of residents, traditional and religious leaders, was attended by Mariam Coronel-Ferrer, chair of the government’s peace panel negotiating with the MILF.

The FAB aims to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with a Bangsamoro region as envisioned by the MILF.

ARMM’s acting governor, Mujiv Hataman, said he and members of his regional cabinet are to participate in the fluvial parade to show their cooperation with the 6th ID’s effort of generating public support to the FAB.

The 6th ID covers the entire Maguindanao province, where the MILF has dozens of duly-acknowledged enclaves, including its main bastion, Camp Darapanan, at Sultan Kudarat town in the first district of the province.

Units of the 6th ID saw action when President Joseph Estrada declared an all out war against the MILF in 2000, and, subsequently in 2003 and in 2008, when Central Mindanao was rocked by rebel-Army encounters precipitated by the collapse then of the peace talks.

There has been a zero military-MILF encounter in the 6th ID’s territory in the past 17 months owing to the close coordination by both sides in addressing domestic peace and security issues.

The 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities crafted by the government and the MILF in Cagayan de Oro in July 1997 enjoins both sides to mutually cooperate in resolving peace and order problems in potential flashpoints in Mindanao.