Friday, May 17, 2013

MILF: Houses burned in assault of military-backed MNLF troops in Cotabato

From the MILF Website (May 18): Houses burned in assault of military-backed MNLF troops in Cotabato

 Scores of houses owned by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were burned down by still unidentified troops of Datu Dimam Ambil of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) following the latters’s assault at Barangay Marbel in Matalam, Cotabato two days ago.
Forces of Datu Dima Ambil assaulted their relatives with the MILF forces under Hadji Mansur of the 108th Base Command – BIAF at attack early morning of May 16, 2013.

Hadji Mansur’s troops on defensive position stood their ground and had repelled the attacking forces the whole morning. But surprisingly the troops of the Philippine Army under the 602nd Infantry Brigade backed up the forces of Datu Dima in the afternoon attack against the group of Hadji Mansur.

“The military attacked us from the back which we did not expect,” Mansur said, even as he lambasted the Philippine Army troops for blatant ceasefire violations.”

 “The army troops were supposed to be a neutral buffer force and should have halted the assault and the burning of houses by forces of Datu Dima,” Mansur said.

Forces of the 602nd Infantry Brigade were put up as buffer force on their insistence following the first encounter between the MNLF and MILF forces in same area last May 5, 2013.

Unfortunately, the army buffer forces did not live up to their mandate by joining the attacking forces and failing to stop the burning of the houses to the extent of committing violations to the ceasefire accord between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF, he said

“We will file our protest on this military-backed MNLF attack and the necessary charges for the burning of our houses,” Hadji Mansur said.

The immediate intervention of the GPH and MILF Ceasefire Committees and the International Monitoring Team (IMT) had stopped the fighting between the forces of Datu Dima and Hadji Mansur in last May 5. Both sides agreed to resolve their misunderstanding through peaceful means after the May 13, 2013 Elections.

The military insisted to put up their buffer force in between the feuding parties to ensure that no untoward incident would happen while works for peaceful resolutions are underway. Unfortunately, however, while some of these forces were acting as buffer force, at one hand, some supported the attack of the group of Dima Ambil.

The leadership of the MILF immediately composed a high-level group tasked to work on the peaceful resolution in support of what was agreed after the May 5, 2013 encounter. However, before the initiatives could take off after the May 13 Elections, the group of Datu Dima launched another offensive.

The MILF CCCH when sought for comment said it is working out on the report but expressed its dismay on the participation of the forces of the 602nd Infantry Brigade. However, it emphasized that the firefight is not organizational involving MILF and MNLF but a mere misunderstanding between the local forces.

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