‘Uncoordinated’ Marines redeployment irks MILF

THE secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) yesterday accused the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of violating the ceasefire agreement by redeploying Marines troops in Central Mindanao.

The AFP redeployed over the weekend the 1st Marines Brigade from Basilan to Cotabato City in order to “balance the forces” in the area, which is a known MILF bailiwick.

MILF spokesman for military affairs Von al Haq said the existing ceasefire agreement between the government and the Muslim rebels group requires one party to inform the other about any movement of its forces.

“So far, they (AFP) have no coordination… we are sad that there’s no coordination,” Al Haq told defense reporters in a phone interview.

He said the MILF leadership is now studying possible violations of the ceasefire agreement the AFP might have committed when it redeployed the 1st Marines Brigade in Central Mindanao without informing them.

“There’s a provision there in the ceasefire agreement that if there will be movement of (troops), proper coordination should be made with your counterparts,” Al Haq said.

He said they “can file a complaint through our ceasefire (committee) to inform our counterparts in the AFP that they may have violated (provisions) in the ceasefire agreement.”

Al Haq said this is not the first time the AFP has decided to deploy its forces without informing the MILF.

“Marami na ito… medyo rampant na itong (military) movements… deployment of the AFP without having coordination with the MILF,” Al Haq said.

He, however, added that they do not consider the latest military movement as an aggressive act.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta said the redeployment was part of the military’s strategic realignment of forces.

“These are instructions coming from headquarters and the intention, as what I said, is for the Marines to be deployed in areas where there are a big number of MILF forces,” Mabanta told defense reporters. Anthony Vargas

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