ZAMBOANGA CITY–Soldiers and police commandos have joined forces with Muslim rebels in a historic pact to go after terrorists in Mindanao where security forces are battling radical groups with links to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya.
Rebel and military commanders said the pace will further strengthen cooperation between the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest Muslim rebel group now negotiating peace with Manila.
The International Monitoring Team is also supporting the joint operation, which started recently in Maguindanao.
Army Col. Manolito Orense, 603rd Infantry Brigade commander, said both the military and the MILF are supporting peace in the southern Philippines. Orense spoke to soldiers and rebels at the army headquarters in Maguindanao before the start of their deployment.
The region has been the scene of recent bomb attacks that killed and wounded dozens of civilians/
The MILF has said there are forces conspiring to sabotage peace negotiation which is now in the last stretch.
It said the conspirators are not acting as one, but tactically they converge to ensure that the peace process will fail.
“Who are these people or groups? It is very easy to know them, because some are speaking to the media openly or releasing poison statements, others spread rumors and intrigues, and another either explode bombs or launch attacks against government military positions. Add the MNLF-Nur Misuari’s declaration of independence of the Bangsamoro Republik and we have full array of these groups,” the MILF said in an editorial on its website.
The editorial said as long as the MILF, the government and majority of the people, including the international community are one and fully committed in pursuing peace, “this dubious scheme will not succeed.”