IMT wants fewer soldiers deployed to Mindanao

The IMT, which monitors the implementation of the ceasefire agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), wants to see more development workers in Mindanao rather than military contingents, said First Admiral Dato Pahlawan Amzah Solaiman, deputy head of mission of IMT-4. 

While acknowledging that the peace process between the government and the MILF has been slow, it “is on the right track,” Solaiman said.

He noted the challenges that have to be confronted for peace to reign in the Southern Philippines: the presence of New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas in some Moro-populated areas in Mindanao, difficulty to sustain peace, and the never-ending cases of rido (family feuds).  

Solaiman explained that the “NPA movement creates trouble is some areas where we have peace.” He stressed that there are a number of communities where there have been relative peace already but this could not be sustained because “you wouldn’t know that conflict would all of a sudden erupt in other areas.” 

The conflicts are caused by “lawless groups and criminal elements” as well as “rido,” which he said has “never stopped and is all over” the Moro communities in Mindanao. 

Solaiman also said the problem has been compounded by the continued “displacement of people” and the “lack of socio-economic development” projects in Mindanao.  

peaking in front of 40 Bantay Ceasefire volunteers from Basilan, who were gathered here to participate in a Basic Documentation Training, Solaiman said his country’s Ministry of Defense has given them three months within which to assess their performance based on the following: 1) the government and MILF support to the peace process, 2) the government and the MILF adherence to the ceasefire agreement, and, 3) the safety of IMT personnel. (Romy Elusfa/Special to MindaNews)

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