Army says 700 MILF fighters join gov’t troops in anti-drugs campaign in NorthCot

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 5 Oct) – They may have been enemies in the battlefield for decades, but this time around, government soldiers and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels and have joined forces in running after groups believed to be behind the proliferation of illegal drugs in the region.

Col. Noly Samarita, commander of the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade based in Carmen, North Cotabato, said 746 combatants of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), mostly from the 118th MILF base Command, are helping government troops in tracking an armed group believed involved in the illegal drugs trade hiding in the Liguasan Marsh.

Samarita is referring to the group of Moks Masgal, alias Commander Madrox, who heads a lost command group dealing in illegal activities, including drugs.

Last August 14, government troops launched a big operation against the group of Madrox but failed to arrest him after the soldiers were detected, then ambushed, resulting in the killing of three soldiers. Madrox’s group, meanwhile, managed to escape in the marshland in the border of North Cotabato and Maguindanao.

Samarita said his troops staged another operation again Wednesday, now aided by MILF rebels.

He said they arrested Madrox’s son, 21-year-old Kamarudin Masgal, along with nine other followers of Madrox who are now being investigation for illegal drugs use and trading.

Samarita said Kamarudin is one of the suspects behind the ambush last August.

He said the manhunt continues until late evening Wednesday, forcing the joint forces of government soldiers and MILF rebels to navigate the vast area of Liguasan Marsh at night using boats, encircling Madrox’s suspected location.

The MILF’s spokesperson, Von Al Haq, said they would issue an official statement in the next few hours after the development of this operation. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)