The GPH and MILF were represented by their respective chairmen, Armed Forces of the Philippines Brig. Gen. Cirilo Thomas P. Donato Jr. and Butch P. Malang.
Cotabato City acting election officer, Atty. Mark Chrystal Sorilla and International Monitoring Team (IMT) Mission 14 Head of Mission, Maj. Gen. Dato’ Ya’cob Bin Haji Samiran witnessed the signing of the memorandum.
Also present during the signing were GPH CCCH Head Secretariat, Col. Joel Mamon; GPH Ad Hoc Joint Action Group chairman, Police Brig. Gen. Madid Paito; MILF Ad Hoc Joint Action Group OIC-Chairman Anwar Alamada; and, 6th Infantry Division assistant commander, Brig. Gen. Juvymax Uy.
The memorandum prescribed guidelines to be observed by the GPH and MILF CCCH, with concurrence of the IMT, as the body carries out heightened special ceasefire-related functions to safeguard the GPH-MILF ceasefire agreement and the Bangsamoro peace process during the election period.
In particular, the document identified specific coordinating and monitoring functions and responsibilities of the concerned parties.
The memorandum covers conflict-affected areas in Mindanao, particularly in identified volatile and election hot spot zones within the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and other adjacent areas.
Its implementing time-frame will be from May 7 to 19, considered the most critical period of the mid-term elections.
In his message during the signing ceremony, Sorilla noted the significance and timeliness of the memorandum signing, saying this move is expected to boost confidence in the conduct of a peaceful and credible election in the region.
“With the active involvement of various groups, we can now rest secure and are hopeful that the forthcoming elections will not only be peaceful but also credible wherein the true will of the people will be expressed,” he said.
“Their decision to whom shall entrust the future of BARMM will be respected as this will be reflective of the political, cultural, and democratic ethos of the Bangsamoro People,” Sorilla added.
The election officer also called on the people to help preserve the integrity of the elections.
“Let us be conscious and conscientious of our constitutional duties to protect the sanctity of the ballots and safeguard the supreme will of the people. We will succeed together because we are working together,” Sorilla said.
The memorandum is anchored on Commission on Elections Resolution Numbers 10429, 10460, and 10527; the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro; and the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
It is also in line with the GPH-MILF Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities; GPH-MILF Agreement on Peace and its Implementing Guidelines for the Security Aspect; and instructions from the principals of the joint ceasefire body with the participation of IMT.
The 2019 national and local elections coincide with the observance of the holy month of Ramadan, which is commemorated by members of the Muslim faith around the world.
It is the first election to be held after the establishment of the BARMM.