AFP-MILF war is finally over — AFP chief

PEACE. Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr. (right) flashes the peace sign together with Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim (2nd from right) during the AFP chief’s visit to Camp Darapanan, the MILF’s main camp situated in Barangay Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on Saturday (Oct. 6, 2018). (Photo credit: Alih Anso – Cotabato Media Group)

 

The decades-old armed fighting days between the military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are over.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr. made this statement during his visit on Saturday, October 6, 2018, to Camp Darapanan, the MILF’s main encampment situated in Barangay Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

Around 6,000 MILF supporters lined up along the Sultan Kudarat stretch of the highway from Quirino Bridge, which separates Cotabato City from Sultan Kudarat municipality at the northern side, to welcome Galvez and his party in going to the Darapanan camp shortly before noon Saturday.

Cordiality marked the visit of Galvez to the MILF camp with MILF chief Al Haj Murad Ebrahim himself leading the welcoming party.

“I finally declare the end of the war between the AFP and MILF. Let’s respect the peace in Mindanao,” Galvez said in his message, which was met with cheers from a huge crowd of MILF leaders and peace supporters in attendance at the grounds of the former rebel camp.

Galvez said he is also looking forward to a strong partnership with the MILF through the forthcoming 2019 plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) that would pave the way for the creation of the new MILF-led Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), replacing the old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) setup.

The BARMM, through the plebiscite, would determine its proposed composition to include the cities and provinces under the current ARMM (the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan); the cities of Cotabato and Isabela in Basilan; the six towns in Lanao del Norte (Balo-i, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan, and Tangkal); and the 39 barangays in six North Cotabato towns that voted yes to inclusion in the ARMM in the 2001 plebiscite.

“Once I hang my uniform for good, it would be okay for me to push for the BOL for everybody. I will dedicate my service pro-bono,” Galvez said.

Prior to becoming military chief, Galvez, known by many here as a “soldier of peace,” served as co-chairman of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities for the government side in the peace process with the MILF in 2015.

Several months later, he became commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division based in Maguindanao before being appointed as AFP’s Western Mindanao Commmand chief based in Zamboanga City.

In April this year, Galvez assumed the AFP top post to succeed retiring chief of staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero.

Ebrahim, for his part, expressed joy on the visit of Galvez to their camp, briefly describing it as “historical.”

“This visit represents the degree of progress we have made over the years in bringing significant cooperation between our military officers in our quest for peace in the Bangsamoro homeland,” Ebrahim said. (Source: Noel Punzalan, Philippine News Agency)

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