-In photo-MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim (Google photo)

MILF seeks the return of IMT to Mindanao

Cotabato City- —The chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) concurrent interim Bangsamoro Chief Minister Al Haj Murad Ebrahim has sought the return of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT), after the independent foreign peacekeepers left Mindanao last year due to the non-renewal-of its mandate by the Philippine government (GPH), Mindanews report said on June 29, 2023.
The MILF Central Committee in a resolution dated June 20, 2023 appealed to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to allow the immediate return of IMT in the southern Philippines.

Citing the Annex on Normalization signed by the GPH and the MILF, the resolution noted that the IMT, including other mechanisms in the Bangsamoro peace process such as the GPH-MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group, are supposed to continue to perform their functions.

It said the non-renewal of the Terms of Reference of the IMT since January 2023 “also impacts on the implementation of the cessation of hostilities, including violations of international humanitarian law and human rights.”

A report by Associated Press (AP) says that the IMT left Mindanao on June 30, 2022, after their authority to stay as ceasefire monitors, which must be renewed each year was not extended by the then-outgoing administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The MILF’s call for the government to sanction the immediate return of the IMT in Mindanao came on the heels of the death of seven MILF members in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao del Sur during a law enforcement operation jointly conducted by the police and military last June 18.

But Maj. Gen. Alex Rillera, commander of the military’s Joint Task Force Central said the operating troops were serving search warrants for two of those killed for alleged violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

Rillera said the troops were met by gunfire, forcing them to retaliate.

Joining a civilian-led fact-finding mission, Mayor Datu Abubakar Paglas of Paglas town doubted the military version of the incident in the early hours of June 18 saying, “Does it look like an encounter happened here?” Taking note that there were no bullet marks on the fence made of hollow blocks directly facing the shattered windows.

First deployed in Mindanao in October 2004, the IMT was tasked to observe and monitor the implementation of the cessation of hostilities and the humanitarian, rehabilitation, and development aspects of the agreements signed between the GPH and the MILF.