Gov't, MILF sign truce after feud leaves 7 dead, 17 wounded

By Albert Hans F. Lipura

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) agreed on a ceasefire to end the violent encounters between the two factions which led to the death of three soldiers and four rebels in the province of Basilan, authorities said on Thursday, November 10.

Photo Courtesy of Western Mindanao Command/Luwaran.com/AFP (Facebook)

The Philippine military’s Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) recorded three fatalities along with the 14 officers who were wounded in the clashes. 

On the other hand, the chairman of the MILF peace panel, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal, also reported that four members were killed and three others were wounded within their ranks. 

The slain soldiers were identified as Corporal Alberto Dal Jr. and privates 1st class Nelson Bantoc and Junry Vega. 

Conflicts between the military and MILF were considered ‘rare’ since the 2014 peace pact was sealed with the Government of the Philippines (GPH), marking the encounter as one of the deadliest clashes to threaten the deal.

Confrontations broke out on Tuesday in Ungkaya Pukan town in Basilan province following a supposed "miscommunication" between the Philippine army and the MILF. 

With the agreement, Philippine armed forces and the MILF will coordinate in keeping peace and order in barangay Ulitan in Ungkayan Pukan, Basilan where the feud started.

It also maintains that all gunfights within the province will cease, MILF reinforcements who are not a resident of Barangay Ulitan will be pulled out, and firearms will be kept until it is decommissioned.

“We are also hopeful that armed clashes such as these will not happen again so as not to undermine the major gains we have achieved under the Bangsamoro peace process,” Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity, Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

Before the ceasefire, the Government Implementing Panel for the GPH-MILF Peace Accord called for sobriety and prudence on Wednesday, November 9, referring to the recent Basilan clash as “unfortunate” given the “progress and headways gained by the GPH and MILF parties in the peace process.”

“Buong akala natin wala nang giyera sa pagitan ng AFP at MILF dahil may kasunduan para sa kapayapaan at nariyan na ang Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao na pinamumunuan ng MILF,” Representative Mujiv Hataman expressed disappointedly.

Meanwhile, Mohagher Iqbal called for an investigation of the cause of the violence to ensure that it would not be repeated.
“The MILF is firmly committed to implementing the CAB [Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro] and realizing long-term peace, justice, and prosperity,” Iqbal said in a statement.

Under the 2014 peace deal or the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the rebels dropped their secessionist ambitions in exchange for a more powerful and well-funded Muslim autonomous region called the Bangsamoro.

Nearly 40,000 rebels were reported to have agreed to lay down their weapons and return to ordinary lives in exchange for financial assistance under the peace agreement. Thousands of individuals have kept their firearms as they await and go through a lengthy "decommissioning process." 

Currently, the five-province Muslim Autonomous region is now led by former rebel leaders under a transition period that is scheduled to end in the year 2025.


Edited by Genevieve Candace Poquiz
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