MILF refutes war scenarios on prank text messages PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 06 July 2013 11:34

The chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation on Friday dismissed as “intrigues” circulating text messages purporting that the rebel group is to stage attacks in the event of a prolonged deadlock in the GPH-MILF talks.

“Those text messages are plain and simple black propaganda against us,” Iqbal told reporters.

Iqbal said he is, in fact, to depart for Malaysia on Saturday to lead the MILF’s peace panel in another round of exploratory talks with its government counterpart.

The two panels are facing an impasse on sensitive issues on the wealth-and-power sharing scheme agreement to be added to the October 15, 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB). The FAB is to become the basis for the setting up in 2015 of an MILF-led new self-governing entity replacing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Iqbal said the MILF has religiously been adhering to its July 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities with the national government.

Maguindanao’s provincial peace and order council (PPOC) is just as confident the fragile peace now in the province will continue until the two panels reaches a final peace deal. The GPH-MILF talks, which started January 7, 1997, is being assisted by various international non-government organizations and foreign peace advocacy entities.

The MILF’s largest enclave, Camp Darapanan, is located in Sultan Kudarat town in the first district of Maguindanao.

“We ought to thank the joint ceasefire committee of the MILF and the government for seeing to it that the ceasefire holds, especially in areas that were scenes of bloody conflicts in previous years,” said Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu.

Mangudadatu said he is certain people in Maguindanao are convinced of the sincerity of the MILF and President Benigno Aquino III in resolving the Mindanao Moro problem on the negotiating table.

The governor also lauded the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and the ARMM police, which has jurisdiction over Maguindanao, for actively supporting the activities of the joint GPH-MILF ceasefire committee.

The commander of 6th ID, Major General Romeo Gapuz, has actively been involving the local government units in Maguindanao in addressing domestic security concerns, including the resolution of clan wars, along with the joint ceasefire committee and field commanders of the MILF.

Gapuz said the 6th ID will tighten security in Maguindanao during the Islamic month of Ramadhan for local folks to peacefully fast from dawn to dusk during the 30-day fasting season, which is to start immediately after the sighting of the new moon next week.

Gapuz said their security missions during the Ramadhan will be initiated in coordination with religious leaders in Maguindanao and the MILF, through the ceasefire committee.

There has not been any single encounter between military and MILF forces in areas covered by the 6th ID since 2011.

Gapuz urged residents of Maguindanao and surrounding provinces to listen and adhere only to security advisories from the joint GPH-MILF ceasefire committee, the police and the military, and ignore prank text messages warning of an outbreak of hostilities in Central Mindanao.

Habib Guiabar, head of the MILF’s local peace and order monitoring team in North Cotabato, said the text messages about the possible resumption of hostilities as a result of the standoff now in the peace talks could be a “handiwork of a third party” trying to derail the peace process.

Guiabar said there is no truth either to circulating stories that MILF forces are gearing up for attacks during the Ramadhan season.