August 31, 2012: His Excellency Dato’ Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Bin Hamidi, Defence Minister of Malaysia, joined the International Monitoring Team (IMT) in the celebration of the 55th National Day of Malaysia and Eid’ Fitr at IMT Headquarters in Cotabato City last August 29, 2012.
Defence Minister Dr. Ahmad and his high delegation landed at Awang Airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao on board Malaysian Armed Forces aircraft, and were immediately accorded with an honors welcome by the 6th Infantry Division, Philippine Army headed by its Commanding General, MGen Rey Ardo.
In his message, Dato’ Ahmad thanked the Philippine Government, particularly its Secretary for National Defense Voltaire Gazmin, for the warm acceptance and cooperation extended for his successful visit.
He lauded the Malaysia-led IMT for its good performance in monitoring and confidence building on the ground for the ongoing peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“Let me take this opportunity to convey my gratitude and appreciation to the Governments of Brunei, Japan, Norway, Indonesia and the European Union (EU) for all their strong participation and contribution with the IMT,” he stated.
He also called on all the parties and stakeholders of the GPH – MILF Peace Process to keep working closely and strongly to achieve long lasting peace, prosperity and harmony for all peoples.
“We assure you that Malaysia will always be together with you in the march to achieve peace in Mindanao. Together we can make peace happen,” he stressed.
He believes that both the government and the MILF can achieve a peace treaty this year, even as said that the role of IMT may be revised then so that more development will be accelerated and scaled up and for peace building and consolidation.
Dr. Ahamd also commended the IMT, GPH – MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), Adhoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), and the Local Monitoring Team (LMTs) for successfully maintain and preserving the truce on the ground.
This year, zero incident of encounter has been recorded between the government and MILF forces.
Also present during the celebration were Gen Ardo, Mayor Datu Tocao Mastura, Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema, BGen Roland Amarille of GPH AHJAG, BGen Gilberto Jose Roa of GPH CCCH, Said Shiek of MILF CCCH, Major Carlos Sol of GPH CCCH, Major Dela Cruz and Major Villaraiz of GPH AHJAG, ICRC, United Nations Agencies, civil society organizations, and all the IMT officials from the participating countries and non-government organizations.
Both the MILF and GPH officials expressed their gratitude and commendation for the unfaltering commitment and support of the Government of Malaysia and Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib to the peace process.