GPH-MILF anti-crime group to start working soon

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/26 April) — The body tasked to flush out criminal elements in the bailiwicks of the Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF) will start work anew in the next few days, it was gathered on Tuesday.

This after the government and the MILF separately confirmed that they have already reconstituted their respective members of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG).

Mario Victor Leonen, chair of the government peace panel, said that Brigadier General Allan Luga, Jr. was appointed head of the government AHJAG team.

His counterpart is lawyer Abdul Dataya, who was reappointed by the MILF, the Moro rebels announced on their website on Tuesday.

The reconstitution of each party’s AHJAG team came as the peace panels are set to resume formal negotiations tomorrow (Wednesday) until Thursday in Malaysia, which is facilitating the talks.

AHJAG was agreed between the government and the MILF in May 2002 with the purpose of isolating and interdicting kidnap-for-ransom groups and other criminal gangs operating in or near MILF areas in Mindanao.

Dataya said they are ready to discharge their duties after the Kuala Lumpur meeting when their list would be formally submitted to the government peace panel.

This would be the 21st exploratory meeting between the government and the MILF, the largest Moro armed group in the country fighting for their right to self-determination.

Recently, members of the government AHJAG team convened in Davao City for a briefing on the AHJAG’s structures and functions, which Leonen attended.

Leonen said the government peace mechanisms and security forces should continue to foster civilian-military relationships.
“While the government is sincere in its efforts to attain lasting peace, it still keeps itself ready to respond when conflict arises,” he reiterated in a statement from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Luga, for his part, said he is planning to hold a joint meeting with the MILF AHJAG to ensure maximum cooperation between the two parties, as well as intensify collaboration with the International Monitoring Team, the body that monitors the ceasefire, civilian protection component, rehabilitation and development, and socio-economic agreements between the government and the MILF.

The government AHJAG will operate with five teams in Mindanao conflict-affected areas: (1) Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, Bukidnon; (2) Lanao and Misamis provinces; (3) Zamboanga peninsula and ARMM island provinces; (4) South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City; and (5) Davao Provinces.

The decision to renew the AHJAG’s mandate for one year was reached during the GPH-MILF formal exploratory talks held last February 9-10, also in Kuala Lumpur.

The AHJAG was to start functioning last March 1 but due to the postponement of the March 29-30 GPH-MILF exploratory meeting to April 27-28, it was deferred by a month, the Moro rebels said.

The AHJAG mechanism was instrumental in the resolution of several kidnapping cases in various parts of Mindanao where the MILF operates. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)

 

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