AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. receives a plaque from MILF Chairman Alhaj Murad Ebrahim as an appreciation for his very important contributions to the peace process. Gen Galvez was in Camp Darapanan on October 6, the first time an AFP Chief of Staff visited the MILF’s main camp.

AFP chief to campaign for BOL upon retirement

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. promised to campaign for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) once he retires on December 12.

This, as the political and military leadership of the MILF warmly welcomed the highest-ranking Filipino soldier to its administrative base in Camp Darapanan in Maguindanao Province last Saturday.

“Once I hang my uniform ….pwede na po akong kumampanya para isulong ang BOL sa lahat ng kanyang sinasakupan,” he told the members of the MILF Central Committee, and Front and Base commanders of the  Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).  

Galvez also assured MILF Chairman Alhaj Murad Ebrahim that he will help in solving the particular challenges mentioned by the latter in his message.

Among the challenges mentioned was the need to bring together all “persuasive   capacity” to convince some LGUs to be part of the historic undertaking of establishing the Bangsamoro Government.

“Sa ngayon po, ang ating mahal na presidente, ako po’y inatasang pangalagaan ito pong Bangsamoro Organic Law,” he added.

Galvez’s visit to Camp Darapanan marked the first time that an AFP Chief of Staff set foot on what was once an enemy’s lair. 

Music from a kulintang ensemble greeted Galvez as he was welcomed and ushered by BIAF Chief of Staff Sammy Almansoor towards the session hall of the MILF located inside the compound of Chairman Ebrahim.

Galvez said he will never forget the importance accorded to him by the MILF which assembled 4000 BIAF combatants – men and women, armed and unarmed, in full or type B uniform – who stood on both sides of the 9-kilometer road from Quirino Bridge in Cotabato City to Camp Darapanan.

“It could have qualified even for a Guinness title of longest foyer honors,” Galvez said of the unbroken line of BIAF combatants who braved the heat of the mid-day sun. 

 No more war

Galvez declared that with the very warm reception they got, the “war between the AFP and MILF is officially over.” 

“I urge my division commanders and brigade commanders to respect peace here in Mindanao,” added Galvez who was accompanied by the military’s top brass.

His party included WesMinCom Commander LtGen. Arnel dela Vega,

MajGen Fernando Trinidad (J2), MajGen Isidro Purisima (J3), MajGen Rene Glen Paje (J7), MajGen Roseller Murillo (1st Infantry Division Commander), MajGen Cirilito Sobejana (6th Infantry Division Commander), BGen Diosdado Carreon (601 Bde Cmdr), BGen Jesus Sarsagat (603rd Bde Cmdr), Col. Eugene Hernandez (1st Marine Bde Cmdr), BGen Cirilo Thomas Donato (Chairman GPH CCCH), PRO ARMM Regional Director PCSupt Graciano Mijares (Chairman GPH AHJAG), Col. Cesar de Mesa (AFP Peace & Dev’t Office) and Col. Noel Detoyato (AFP Public Affairs Office).

Shake hands, hugs, laughter, smiles, picture poses, and sharing of stories filled the 2-hour stay of the military inside the administrative base of the MILF.

Galvez and Almansoor referred to each other as kumpare in their messages while Ebrahim described Galvez as long-time friend of the MILF.

It was not the first time for Galvez to be in Camp Darapanan though. In September 2016 he made a courtesy call to Almansoor when he was still 6th ID Commander, a feat that was repeated by current 6ID Commander Sobejana who visited Camp Darapanan last August 19.  

He has endeared himself to MILF commanders that once he went unescorted to an MILF camp inorder to resolve an issue, according to Almansoor. That was when Galvez served as Chairman of the CCCH, the ceasefire mechanism of GPH and MILF.

In the MILF guest book, Galvez wrote these words: I will work hard and dedicate my life for the Bangsamoro. I love you all. Today is the end of war and now we will begin peace in our land.