GPH-CCCH praises IMT for reducing AFP-BIAF clashes; MILF-CCCH files complaints of uncoordinated AFP deployment

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — The head of the government secretariat of the Ceasefire Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) on Wednesday, March 9, praised the international peace monitors composing the International Monitoring Team for their help in reducing the armed skirmishes between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).

“The IMT’s work on the ground has made a big impact too,” said Major Carlos Sol in release from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

The IMT, which monitors the ceasefire, civilian protection component, rehabilitation and development, and socio-economic agreements between the government and MILF, is composed of peace monitors from Malaysia, Brunei, Libya, Japan, Norway and European Union (EU).

The IMT’s tour of duty ended on February 28, but the government and the MILF negotiating panels agreed to renew its mandate for another year during their 20th formal exploratory talks on Feb. 9 and 10 in Kuala Lumpur,

The OPAPP e-mailed the release on the same day that the MILF-CCCH protested the “spate of uncoordinated movements by government forces in the provinces of Cotabato and Maguindanao.”

The MILF-CCCH said in a report posted on the website that “combined forces of the 7th and 40th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army supported by two tanks moved around barangay Bualan and Habitat-Pagangan in the municipality of Pikit, Cotabato Province without coordination made by the government CCCH to MILF CCCH.”

The MILF-CCCH also said that last month’s movements of the Philippine Army Special Forces using the Australia-donated windboats from Kabuntalan, Midsayap, Datu Piang and Pikit along the Rio Grande River “were uncoordinated.”

“Scores of uncoordinated movements and deployment by government forces had been protested by MILF-CCCH to government CCCH the past months in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Cotabato,” the report

The report also said that the government knows the presence of the MILF forces in the areas where the government had deployed its forces and yet continue to “deliberately disregard the coordination of movements through the government and MILF CCCHs, thus causing alarm to MILF forces and evacuation of civilians.”

“Firefight and untoward incidents involving government and MILF forces that can adversely affect the peace talks can occur if the government will continue on doing this without proper coordination,” the report warned.

The CCCH is comprised of members from both parties, as well as neutral parties.

Established in 2003, it has been tasked to resolve complaints over ceasefire violations so that small firefights do not intensify.

“We (CCCH) supervise the implementation of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities that was signed by both parties in 1997. The IMT checks how we comply with the guidelines,” Sol said.

Sol also reported that the number of armed skirmishes between government and MILF forces dropped to 14 in 2010 from 115 in 2009.

He also reported that there have been no recorded encounters from January 2011 to date.

In 2008, a record 218 armed clashes occurred between the two forces which were aggravated by the botched signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). Albus D. Estabas


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