Military, MILF arrest 13 in illegal drugs

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/15 October) — Thirteen members of an armed group involved in illegal drugs who were arrested during operations conducted jointly by the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade and elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on October 5 to 11 were turned over Friday to the Provincial Police Office of North Cotabato, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said.

The 13 are members of a group led by Samad Masgal alias Commander Madrox and operating in North Cotabato. But Masgal was not among those who were arrested, the OPAPP report said.

The report said the operation was conducted in barangays Nabalawag, Kapinpilan, and Kadingilan in Midsayap, North Cotabato.

The Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) set up by the government and MILF peace panels and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) were tapped to operate in these areas “with strong MILF presence.”

A similar operation was conducted last August by the AFP and the MILF against Madrox’ group which resulted in the death of four of his followers and three members of the Philippine Army.

“For the past six days, eh nakita natin yung sigasig ng MILF at saka ng government forces na maipatupad ang kautusan ng ating Presidente na mag all-out campaign against illegal drugs and criminality (We’ve seen in the last six days the determination of the MILF and the government forces to enforce the directive of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to launch an all-out campaign against illegal drugs and criminality),” the report quoted Director Carlos T. Sol Jr. of the combined secretariat of the GPH-CCCH and the AHJAG, as saying.

Those arrested were turned over to the Philippine National Police (PNP) provincial office in Amas, Kidapawan, in the presence of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency regional director Lyndon Aspacio.

Aspacio praised the joint operations. He said the fight against illegal drugs “transcends all affiliations and it even unites people with diverse backgrounds.”

For Major General Carlito Galvez, Jr., commander of the 6th Infantry Division, the operation “also serves as another building block toward reaching a permanent peace with the Moro rebel groups.”

“Now is the time for us to unite and fight together this drug problem,” said Galvez, who had earlier served as chief of the government’s CCCH.

“I hope that this is just the beginning; if we have a strong partnership that is united in implementing the intentions of the President I know that we will be able to accomplish many things together,” Galvez said.

Supt. Emmanuel Peralta, director of PNP North Cotabato said “our cooperation has brought about one of our objectives and that is to stop the proliferation of illegal drugs.”\

On 12 July 2016, the CCCH and AHJAG of both parties signed an “Agreement of Cooperation and Coordination” in the Campaign against illegal Drugs in MILF-controlled areas. The agreement allows for “information exchange/sharing which includes, but not limited to the submission of the MILF of a list of drug personalities identified in its area subject to validation of the law enforcement agencies.”

The agreement also allows the MILF to “conduct information drive on the ill-effects of illegal drugs in the MILF affected areas as part of its demand reduction activities” among others.

The OPAPP report quoted MILF Central Mindanao Front Commander Gordon Sayfulah as saying the joint operation “has resulted into better and peaceful lives for our stakeholders as well as stronger confidence between GPH and MILF forces.”

“I would like to commend this new administration for its strong commitment to end illegal drugs in our country. I would also like to express my gratitude to those who have been part of the operation which includes the operating troops and coordinating body,” he said.

Arrested were Omar Masgal Angking, Ali Masgal Buat, Ronnie Ferrer Catulong, Morem Kenny Gumbila Dima, Mantoa Amal Gombila, Sari Alim Lumilis, Taokie Habip Lumilis, Mandag Mamalinta y Mamao, Tiyabong Mamalinta, Guiama Milikano y Masgal, Masgal Milicano, Nandi Pagao y Sinangkad, and Guiamalodin Kalay Palaka

Also recovered during the operation were two grenade launchers; two M16 rifles; an M14 rifle; a homemade shotgun; a .30-caliber Garand rifle; a homemade .50-caliber sniper rifle; one rocket propelled grenade launcher ammunition; and two fragmention grenades alongside a handful of short firearms. A number of shabu-containing heat-sealed sachet packs as well as other drug paraphernalia were also recovered during the operation, the OPAPP reported. (MindaNews)

 

 

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