Rival NorthCot MILF, MNLF forces reconcile PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 19 October 2013 11:01

With feuding forces of the Moro National Liberation Front and Moro Islamic Liberation Front in North Cotabato cordial to each other anew,  folks displaced by their encounters in recent months can now return to their villages and thrive peacefully again,  officials said.

The military, in fact, has started shifting its activities from peacekeeping to community-rebuilding in more than a dozen troubled barangays following the reconciliation early this week of Moro factions locked in bloody squabbles for control of the contested areas.

Brig. Gen. Ademar Tomaro, commander of the Army’s 602nd Brigade, said the feuding MILF and MNLF groups, whose encounters in recent months in isolated areas in several towns left more than 30 dead and dislocated some 7,000 villagers, agreed to reconcile through the intercession of North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza.

“We are also thankful to the mayors of the municipalities of Mlang, Matalam, Kabacan, and Kidapawan City for helping the provincial governor and the 602nd Brigade resolve the long time disputes between forces of the MILF and MNLF in the province,” Tomaro said.

The leaders of the two groups, Dima Ambel of the  MNLF and Kagui Abas Bayan of the MILF’s 108th Base Command had signed a peace covenant detailing the disengagement of a total of 1,300 guerillas in the embattled farming enclaves to hasten the return of evacuees.

The reconciliation rite, attended by some 200 Moro commanders from both sides and hundreds of their followers, was held October 15, during the Eid’l Adha, or Islamic feast of sacrifice, at the municipal gymnasium in Matalam town in the second district of the province.

The event was witnessed by local officials led by Mendoza, the presiding chairperson of the inter-agency provincial peace and order council, which has been addressing domestic peace and security issues through traditional conflict-resolution practices.

Mendoza said the efforts to convince the rival MNLF and MILF forces to reconcile  gained headway with the support of former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Vice Gov. Jimmy Matalam, who is revered as the “grand datu” of Moro communities in the province.

Tomaro said the 602nd Brigade is now focused on helping the local government units rebuild the villages where the rival groups had figured in fierce clashes that caused the dislocation of thousands of innocent villagers.

“All of our community rebuilding projects are being done with the involvement of the LGUs and representatives from the MILF and the MNLF,” Tomaro said.