• Military violating ceasefire – MILF

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    THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has accused the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of ceasefire violations as Army troops began massive movements in areas controlled by the rebel group in Maguindanao province in southern Philippines.

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    Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez, chairman of the Government of the Philippines Coordination Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (GPHCCCH) on Sunday confirmed the movements but was quick to clarify that the military’s show of force was not intended for the MILF but for its splinter group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Figthers (BIFF).

    “It was misconstrued by the MILF because their areas [MILF and BIFF] are close to each other,” Galvez explained.

    Rasid Ladiasan, head of the MILFCCCH secretariat, said no coordination has been made by the AFP prior to Saturday’s deployment of government troops in the towns of Datu Unsay and Datu Saudi.

    “This nature of uncoordinated movements can trigger untoward incidents or worse, fierce encounters between the government and MILF forces,” Ladiasan added.

    “Clearly any movements which are not normal administrative functions like the case that transpired early morning today in those areas constitute ceasefire violations when the CCCHs were not coordinated. The government forces know this very well but unfortunately they acted in contravention,” he said.

    Ladiasan’s comment was posted on the MILF official website

    Galvez admitted that no coordination was made by his office but insisted that “they were not MILF areas.”

    He noted that the issue was resolved after a meeting between Army and MILF ground commanders.

    “It was explained by the [Army] commander that it was a preemptive move to prevent the BIFF from attacking. It was relayed to the MILF and they understand it,” Galvez said.

    Bangsamoro bill
    The MILF’s accusations came as Malacanang on Sunday gave assurances that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be passed in the 16th Congress amid concerns that its enactment would be delayed because of disagreements between the government and MILF peace panels.

    According to Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., the two panels are “exerting all efforts” to ensure that the measure is passed in a “timely manner.”

    The President is expected to certify the bill as urgent upon its submission to the House of Representatives, Coloma said in a radio interview.

    The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), signed between the government and the MILF on March 27 this year, will be reflected in the draft Bangsamoro bill.

    Coloma said Aquino vowed to push Congress to pass the Bangsamoro law when he met with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) on Thursday.

    He added that the President urged the parties to come up with the draft bill soon.

    “We want the Bangsamoro Transition Authority to be put in place next year, as early as possible,” Coloma said, quoting the President.

    “Let’s approach this [drafting of the proposed law]with an open mind, see if everything is consistent with the CAB, and limit the potential challenges,” he added.

    The meeting came on the heels of reports of “significant points of differences” between the government and MILF peace panels on the draft bill.

    But Coloma said the President urged the parties to work together to bridge their differences.

    The Bangsamoro Basic Law will formalize the creation of the new Bangsamoro political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Tat entity is expected to speed up the process of creating the autonomous region as part of a peace process aimed at ending the decades-old armed conflict in Mindanao that has claimed thousands of lives in the region.

    WITH CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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