MILF sub-leader, soldier killed in Lanao clash

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: A sub-leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and a soldier were killed in a firefight that also left four wounded in the town of Marantao in Lanao del Sur province, officials confirmed on Sunday.

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Capt. Franco Suelto, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division, said the soldiers, members of the 65th Infantry Battalion, were waiting for the TV crew of Bitag, when MILF sub-leader Javier Macagaan and his followers attacked the infantrymen sparking a firefight on Saturday.

He said the clash killed Macagaan and a government soldier. Two from each sides were also wounded in the fighting that erupted in the village of Bacayawan on July 11, he said.

Suelto said the soldiers were acting as route security detail for the TV crew who were filming in Marantao town.

Other reports said that Macagaan and his followers were alarmed after seeing many soldiers arrived near his house and thought he would be arrested by the military.

Col. Glenn Macasero, commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, said the MILF members attacked the soldiers without provocation.

“The soldiers had no recourse but to return fire and defend their position until reinforcement arrived. Firefight ensued for an hour until elements of the MILF withdraw to different direction,” he said in a report to Brig. Gen. Gerardo Barrientos Jr, commander of the 1st Infantry Division.

It was unknown what the TV crew was filming or why was the local police force not tapped to secure the TV team. There was no immediate statement from Bienvenido “Ben” Tulfo, the independent producer of the hard-hitting television program Bitag.

Macasero said the incident was resolved through the intercession of the International Monitoring Team and the Joint Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities.

“This is an unfortunate incident and sad that our soldiers were ambushed while maintaining peace and security of the area. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends those killed and wounded. The 1st Infantry Division is fully supporting the peace process on Bangsamoro. We give much importance on this stage of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro and we will not let anyone spoil the gains of the peace process,” Suelto said.

Barrientos also called on MILF leaders in Lanao del Sur to intensify the dialogue on their sub-commanders and communities to avoid similar incidents in the future.

“The 1st Infantry Division is one with the nation in looking for permanent solution on the peaceful closure of all armed conflicts by adhering to the primacy of the peace process,” he said.

“We will hold consultations and dialogues with various sectors in the fulfillment of our support role in the governments peace thrust. The immediate resolution of the Marantao incident is the proof of the effectiveness of peace process mechanism,” he added.

Barrientos said the local cease-fire monitoring team headed by Musa Diamla and members of the Malaysia-led International Monitoring Team under by Colonel Radzuan and the MILF-CCCH led by Amerodin Usmanen, including the 103rd Infantry Brigade and civil society organizations will continue its partnership in promoting peace and peaceful resolution of conflict in this part of the region.

“The (1st Infantry) Division will actively support, advocate, and participates in peace-building in conflict-affected areas particularly in Bangsamoro communities,” he said.

Manila signed a peace agreement with the MILF in March ending decades of bloody fighting in the restive region.

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6 Comments

  1. Brig.Gen.Barrientos,now one star,3 more star will look good on the shoulder,in reality these peacetalk will not work and you know it you fought them for many years.MNLF peace talk=Fail=result =MILF = stop and go figthing,will not work. more deaths,displacement of people =MILF peace talk = BIFF its a joke,Malaysian monitor,another joke,Malaysian wants trouble in the south foreever bec.of Sabah and Sarawak that belongs to the Philippines.And we are killing each other (pilipinos)in the south because of Malaysian self interest.