Gov’t, MILF unite for peaceful Barangay, SK polls

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are gearing up to make sure the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao are honest, orderly, and peaceful.

On May 4, 2018, the GPH and MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) signed the guidelines for Mutual Understanding for ceasefire-related functions for the May 14 polls.

The guidelines were signed in Cotabato City city by Brigadier General Cirilo Thomas P. Donato Jr., chair of the government’s ceasefire committee, and his counterpart in the MILF, Butch Malang.

The signing was witnessed by Major General Dato’ HJ Mohd Nazir Bin Mami, the head of mission of the 13th Mindanao International Monitoring Team (IMT-M13).

“Pinapakita dito na ginagawa natin na mas malakas ang ugnayan ng MILF at gobyerno (This document shows that we are strengthening the coordination between the MILF and the government),” Donato said.

“We are strengthening the ceasefire mechanism and we are showing that everybody will work hand-in-hand to support an orderly and honest election,” he added.

To be implemented from May 4 to 21, 2018, the the guidelines stipulate that armed MILF elements are to refrain from going near polling centers and precincts.

They are also to avoid displaying their firearms and uniforms along the routes leading to areas where electoral activities are going on.

Malang gave assurance that the MILF is sincere in its willingness to help promote peace in Mindanao.

“Ito po ang isa sa palatandaan sa sinseridad ng MILF na tumulong para ma achieve natin ang objective na magkaroon ng peace hindi lamang ngayong election kundi lasting peace sa Mindanao (This is one of the proofs of the MILF’s sincerity in helping achieve not just peace during the election but lasting peace in Mindanao),” he said.

For his part, Nazir said the IMT will help ensure that both parties abide by the rules and processes of the signed guidelines.

The guidelines task the IMT and the joint ceasefire committees to coordinate and monitor the unhindered movement and deployment of the following to and from the polling centers located within MILF-dominated areas:

  • election personnel,
  • equipment/paraphernalia,
  • documents,
  • voters, and
  • AFP/PNP election security personnel as deputized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Comelec ARMM Assistant Regional Director Renault Macarambon said the guidelines can help ensure the success of the coming elections.

“The Comelec is very optimistic that this will definitely achieve honest, orderly, and peaceful election here in the ARMM on May 14, 2018,” he said.

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