Military, police told: Don’t isolate from peace process

Brigadier General Benjamin Dolorfino, who heads the government team in the GRP-MILF Ad-hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) said Friday both military and police officials should understand the peace process “to avoid jeopardizing the peace process”.

In front of officials from the Army's Eastern Mindanao Command and the police's Southeastern Mindanao regional office, Dolorfino lectured on the need for coordination among government forces from top to bottom.

"Up to now they (police and military officials on the ground) still do not understand the mechanisms supporting the peace process" Dolorfino told MindaNews. AHJAG officials told MindaNews there were many encounters involving forces of the government and the MILF that could have been avoided if only the officials knew more.

He said there is greater need for government forces to understand their role now that the negotiations remained stalled. Aside from AHJAG, there are also the other coordinative ceasefire mechanisms like the international monitoring team, the Joint Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and local monitoring teams.

"It happens that it is not yet understood in the tactical level," he said.

Dolorfino led AHJAG officials in the three-day advocacy campaign here, the fourth in a series of education campaign in five areas around Mindanao. Representatives from the local government units, non-government organizations, lawyers, the Moro communities, and the indigenous peoples also attended.   

AHJAG, directly under the government peace panel, is an organization outside of the AFP. The GRP–MILF AHJAG, according to a primer distributed to the participants, is a coordinative body of AFP, PNP and the MILF Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces to effect the apprehension and arrest of suspected criminal elements within or near MILF affected communities or areas.

Dolorfino  said government security forces should always work with the people, the local government units and national government agencies.

Lt. Col. Ariel Caculitan, chief on education and training of the Philippine Marine Corps and Dolorfino's AHJAG deputy said there was a need to conduct of education regularly in the ranks of the military and police in Mindanao, especially in the course of periodic reassignments of their officers.