New batch of IMT peace monitors to arrive in March PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 21 February 2014 12:59

Following the renewal of the mandate of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) last January, a new contingent of peace monitors are set to arrive here next month to protect the ongoing ceasefire between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The new batch of monitors under the IMT Mission 9 will replace the current group whose mandate will end on March 12, 2014.

During the 43rd round of Exploratory Talks last month in Kuala Lumpur, GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal signed the certificate of renewal of the mandates of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG).

The IMT, which monitors the ceasefire, civilian protection component, rehabilitation and development, and socio-economic agreements between the government and the MILF, will be serving its mandate for another year until March 2015.

Both parties also agreed to merge IMT sites 4 and 5. Site 4 in General Santos City covers the areas of Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, Sarangani and Davao del Sur, while Site 5 in Davao City operates across Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

The GPH and MILF also agreed to reduce the number of IMT members to 36 monitors. There will be 14 monitors from Malaysia, nine each from Brunei and Indonesia, and two each from Japan and Norway.

The AHJAG, on the other hand, will be reinstated for one year until February 14, 2015.

Initially formed in 2002, the AHJAG is a joint effort of the GPH and the MILF that seeks to interdict and isolate lawless elements. It coordinates, monitors, and disseminates information between and among the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and the MILF to effect the unhampered law enforcement operations without jeopardizing the GPH-MILF peace process.

BGen. Romeo Gan, who currently serves as Assistant Division Commander of the 6th Infantry Division, has been designated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines as the new head of the AHJAG, following the retirement of MGen. Leo Cresente Ferrer last December 2013.

The IMT and AHJAG have been instrumental in reducing levels of hostilities between GPH and MILF forces, and increasing efficiency in the pursuit of criminal elements in Central Mindanao and Basilan.