GPH-MILF election security pact now being enforced PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 25 April 2013 11:05

The police and military started imposing Wednesday the election security agreement between the government and the    Moro Islamic Liberation Front meant to complement the efforts of the Commission on Elections to ensure a safe and fair electoral exercise on May 13.

The Army’s 6th Infantry Division based in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao confirmed to reporters via email that it has distributed to its component units copies of the interim accord, which the GPH and MILF ceasefire committees crafted in Davao City Monday.

The 6th ID’s Division Public Affairs Office said commanding officers of Army units in Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat have also been directed to coordinate with local governments, religious and traditional leaders in enforcing the month-long GPH-MILF election security accord.

The special security “memorandum of understanding,” or MOU, signed at the Waterfront Hotel in Davao City by the chairman of the government’s ceasefire committee, Brig. Gen Cesar Sedillo, Jr., and Hadji Said Sheik of the MILF, shall be valid from April 22 to May 20, 2013.

Malaysian Army Gen. Mokhtar Fadzil, head of the International Monitoring Team (IMT), also affixed his signature to the document, which explicitly restrained armed MILF guerillas from getting close to polling centers during the May 13 electoral exercise.

The IMT, which is comprised of soldiers and policemen from Malaysia, Brunei, Libya, and Indonesia, and non-uniformed conflict resolution experts from Japan, Norway and the European Union, has been helping oversee since late 2003 the enforcement of all preliminary security agreements between the GPH and MILF.

The government’s chief negotiator, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, and her MILF counterpart, Muhaquer Iqbal, who is chairman of the newly-created Transition Commission, both witnessed the signing of the MOU.

A popular peace activist in Central Mindanao, Oblate priest Eliseo Mercado, Jr. of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, said the MOU will help improve the security situation in areas often rocked by troubles during elections.

Even the director of the Commission on Elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, lawyer Ray Sumalipao, said the MOU gave their security efforts a “much needed boost.”

Sumalipao said they appreciate the willingness of the GPH and MILF’s joint ceasefire committee to help prevent any trouble during next month’s polling day in the autonomous region.

Tension has been shrouding some areas in Maguindanao, spawned by the reported “endorsements” by a senior, supposedly apolitical MILF military official, of candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance.

The reported “partisanship” of the key MILF official, seemed contrary to the earlier assurance of neutrality of the rebel group’s central committee during the May 13 elections.

Many ground commanders of the MILF have overtly been attending the political engagements of candidates of the Liberal Party in Maguindanao towns after their chief negotiator, Muhaquer Iqbal, announced two weeks ago over station dxND in Kidapawan City that they are to freely allow guerillas to support candidates whose platforms of government are focused on furthering the Mindanao peace process.

Many peace activists are worried of the possible repercussions of an animosity between the top MILF official campaigning for UNA candidates and the group’s ground commanders and guerillas backing the candidacy of LP members for local and provincial positions.

The MOU also obliged the MILF’s ceasefire committee to cooperate on ensuring the safe, unhampered movements of Comelec personnel and government security forces tasked to secure polling centers in areas covered by the 1997 government-MILF ceasefire pact.

Chief Supt. Noel Delos Reyes, director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police, said police directors in all of the ARMM’s five provinces — Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, are to involve peace advocacy outfits and religious leaders in their enforcement of the GPH-MILF election truce.

“Of course, all our election security duties shall be done under the auspices of the Comelec,” Delos Reyes said