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Philippines : MILF repositions troops to assist AFP in BIFF pursuit.

The military wing of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have repositioned more than a thousand of its fighters in several barangays to avoid a mis-encounter as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continues its law enforcement operations against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and other terrorist groups operating in the province.

Last February 5, the AFPs 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade initiated a law enforcement operation against the BIFF that traversed through barangays Gawang and Madia in the municipality of Datu Saudi Ampatuan and barangays Tee and Andavit in the municipality of Datu Salibo. Prior to the operation, the MILF repositioned a total of 1,737 members of its Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) to give way to the AFPs pursuit operations against the BIFF.

All BIAF forces in these areas are repositioned to allow our armed forces the freedom to operate against the BIFF. We want to avoid mis-encounters between the government forces and the MILF, said Director Carlos Sol, Jr., Head of the GPH Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) Secretariat. We repositioned the MILF from their communities to three repositioning sites.

Established in 2003, the CCCH is tasked with monitoring the implementation of the ceasefire agreement between the government and the MILF. Aside from resolving complaints over ceasefire violations so that small skirmishes do not intensify, the CCCH is also instrumental in maintaining peace and order in communities with members of the MILF.

The sites mentioned by Dir. Sol include Sitio Udsuran, Brgy. Kitango, Datu Saudi Ampatuan; Sitio Diate, Brgy. Pamalian and Sitio Balbugan, Brgy. Pagatin, Shariff of Saydona Mustapha, Maguindanao. The more than one thousand BIAF members are from the MILFs 105th, 118th, and the Interim and National base commands.

Meanwhile, civilians affected by the law enforcement operation composed mostly of families of the repositioned BIAF combatants are being assisted by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao-Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team (ARMM-HEART), the provincial government of Maguindanao, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Majority of the civilians are temporarily staying with their relatives in barangays Madia, Dapiawan, Kitango, and other secured areas. The DSWD 12, through the CCCH, have been providing those affected by the repositioning with provisional food packs every ten days. The CCCH said that the DSWD 12 will be assisting until the situation normalized.

Sol explained that the repositioning was an excellent example of how the coordination between government and MILF forces was pivotal in the conduct of law enforcement operations and preventing mis-encounters. The MILF, on the other hand, has expressed its continued commitment in assisting the Philippine government in its pursuit of the BIFF.

The partnership between the government and the MILF is on because the peace agreement and the ceasefire agreement did not collapse, said one MILF member assigned to the CCCH.

The ongoing AFP operation is near the so-called SPMS Box Salbo, Pagatin, Mamasapano, Shariff Aguak where more or less six thousand BIAF members and their families reside. Sol said the MILF has given assurances that in case the pursuit operation would spread, the MILF would also be willing and ready to reposition their forces there.

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Feb 26, 2016
Words:538
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