New Malaysian IMT contingent to arrive today

A NEW head of mission of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) will arrive today at Awang Airport in Maguindanao on board a Malaysian airplane.

Arriving with Major Gen. Dato Mahdi bin Yusof, the new IMT-6 head of mission are 19 other international monitors from Malaysia.

Yusof replaced Major Gen. Datuk Baharom bin Hamzah, head of the IMT-5 whose mandate ended on February 28.

Earlier the MILF had awarded its highest citations to General Baharom for his exemplary services rendered for the observance of the ceasefire in Mindanao while the peace negotiation between the MILF and government is going on.

The IMT, which is composed of Malaysia, Brunei, Libya, Japan, Norway and the European Union, monitors on the ground implementation of the security, socio-economic, civilian protection, humanitarian, rehabilitation and development components of the GPH-MILF Peace Process.

Also on March 6, representatives of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) hosted a farewell dinner for the departing Malaysian IMT-5 delegation in Cotabato City

Hamzah also met with OPPAP Secretary Teresita “Ging” Quintos-Deles and Marvic Leonen, chief government negotiator in talks with the MILF.

On February 27, MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim conveyed the highest citations from the MILF and the Bangsamoro people during the farewell program at Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao:

“In behalf of the MILF and the Bangsamoro people, let me take this opportunity to express our gratitude and appreciation to His Excellency MGen Datuk Baharom bin Hamzah and the entire members of the IMT Mindanao Batch – 5, as well as the leadership of the Governments of Malaysia, Brunei, Libya, Norway, the European Union, and the different international and local non-government organizations which comprises the IMT for the remarkable performance of their designated tasks and accomplishments in the service of peace and humanity,” Ebrahim was quoted as saying.

“We are indeed happy to cite that your one-year tour of duty had contributed to a great extent to our common objective of attaining just, honorable and lasting peace in Mindanao and for the Bangsamoro people,” the MILF chair was also quoted as saying.

Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief peace negotiator, also lauded the IMT-5, saying “the incidents of violations to the ceasefire accord had diminished significantly and the number of skirmishes between the government and MILF forces had been reduced to almost zero incident” since February last year.

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