GPH-MILF skirmishes in 2011: zero

ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat (MindaNews/15 April) –  There are no recorded skirmishes between government forces and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from January 1 to April 14 this year, government peace panel chair Dean Marvic Leonen said.

Leonen showed officials of Sultan Kudarat’s 11 towns a graph showing 14 skirmishes recorded last year, down from 115 in 2009 and 218 in 2008.

The skirmishes had significantly dropped from 698 in 2002 to 569 in 2003, a “war” year when government forces attacked Buliok, Pagalungan where the late MILF chair Salamat Hashim had set up base after the fall of Camp Abubakar in 2000; to 16 in 2004, 10 in 2005, 13 in 2006 and eight in 2007.

The number rose to 218 in 2008 and 115 in 2009 following the aborted signing of the already initialed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD).

The skirmishes ended with the declaration of a Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO) by the government and the Suspension of Military Action (SOMA) by the MILF in late July 2009.

Leonen, however, told the officials that “ceasefire forever is unacceptable,” apparently in response to statements by MILF peace panel members that they hope government will gov for a final political settlement and not just settle for “ceasefire forever.”

“After you stabilize the area,” Leonen said, “there’s a bit of peace, temporary at that, because ceasefire is not peace and by the way this government has no appetite to maintain ‘ceasefire forever.’ It is unacceptable. Because ‘ceasefire forever’ still gives the indication that there can be a flare-up at anytime and the reason why many investors do not want to come to Mindanao or your municipality is that of course, (they) always thinks that for so long as this situation remains unsolved, then there is a potential that they will not be here. The reason why many Filipino businesses would not want to start up very large investments in our areas here is because of that reason,” he said.

Monitoring the ceasefire is the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) and the Joint Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of  the government and MILF, and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG).

Leonen said the government’s CCCH and AHJAG chairs are no longer given concurrent field assignments but are now doing their work full-time.

The government’s CCCH chair is Brig. Gen. Rey Ardo while the MILF’s CCCH chair is Said Shiek.  The CCCH chief of secretariat is Maj. Carlos Sol while the MILF’s is Rashid Ladiasan.

The government’s AHJAG chair is Brig. Gen. Alan Luga while the MILF’s is Atty. Abdul Dataya. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)