MILF releases army, paramilitary troops caught during peace process consultation

THE Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces – MILF had handed over five army troops and a member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographic Unit (Cafgu) to the MILF CCCH, GPH CCCH and the International Monitoring Team (IMT) with representatives from the governments of Malaysia, Brunei and Libya in columbio, Sultan Kudarat last February 12, 2011.

These five army and paramilitary troops connected with the 27th and 72nd Infantry Battalions of the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army were caught at around 11am at a check point put up during the conduct of a consultation on the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) at Barangay Polomolok, Columbio, Sultan Kudarat Province last February 12, 2011.

They were handed over to the ceasefire bodies of the government and MILF peace process at about 9pm that day.

Eid Kabalu, the spokesperson of BIAF, and Toks Ebrahim, former Chairman of the MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), who were present during the consultation, led the handing over to the CCCHs and IMT.

Four caliber pistols and two hand grenades were caught from their possession when caught while attempting to pass through the check point at Sitio Bialong in Polomolok. These equipments were also given back.

The check point was the entrance to the area of engagement for the peace process consultation that was attended by hundreds of people from both the BIAF and political committees of MILF.

Accordingly, the army and paramilitary troops, who were riding motorcycles, joined the receiving party, also riding on motorcycles, who escorted the delegation of Kabalu and Ebrahim to the area of consultation.

“We were just fortunate that they were caught at the last check point sites otherwise they could have possibly inflicted big harm and casualties if not caught by BIAF manning the check point, which could render big blows to the peace process,” Eid kabalu, Spokesperson of BIAF, said.

“We hope the government will remind its armed forces of the primacy of the peace process so much so that the government and the MILF had just resumed formal negotiations under the facilitation of the Malaysian government,” Kabalu added.

Kabalu pointed out that the caught army personnel were turned over to them for proper custody.

“They were not harmed and treated well because the BIAF – MILF strictly adheres to the rules of engagements in Islam and to the international humanitarian laws (IHL),” he said.

The MILF is very sincere and committed to the peace process and we want to boost confidence from the local and international communities, he said.

Earlier, the MILF also handed over to the MILF CCCH, GPH CCCH and IMT two military personnel connected with the 6th Infantry Division, Philippine Army after they were caught roaming around Camp Darapanan during a peace consultation with the 105th and 118th Base Commands of BIAF last February 7, 2011.  The caliber pistols taken from their possession were also returned by the MILF.

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