South Cotabato’s Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) chaired by Governor Arthur “Dodo” Y. Pingoy Jr. during its second quarter meeting on Wednesday passed two resolutions objecting the putting up of two camps in the province by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Senior Board Member Jose Madanguit, who was the proponent of the two resolutions, disclosed that the acts of the MILF was in violation of the present ceasefire agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF.
The first resolution specifically objected to the putting up of a camp at Tudok, T’boli, while the second resolution also objected the putting up of a satellite camp at Sitio Lampakpak, Lampari, Banga.
Both resolutions also called for the immediate dismantling of the two camps.
The move was prompted after the presentation of Lt. Col. Alexis Noel Bravo, commanding officer of the 27th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army based in the town of Tupi, confirming the presence of the MILF to set up camps in the province.
“The MILF 107th Base Command with a strength, more or less, of about 200 fully armed combatants, was responsible for setting up the camp in Tudok, T’boli,” Bravo added, ”but the camp is currently maintained by members numbering between 30 to 40 only.”
In Sitio Lampakpak, Lampari, Banga, the military has monitored around 11 fully armed members staying in the satellite camp.
Tupi Mayor Reynaldo Tamayo and Banga Mayor Henry Ladot, who were present during the meeting and whose municipalities bordered the MILF satellite camp, expressed their respective concerns regarding the situation and appealed for intervention, especially in the dismantling of the camp.
The satellite camp was previously occupied by the MILF, but dismantled about five years ago, which raised questions among PPOC members why the said group occupied it again.
In an interview with a radio station here today, MILF vice chairman Gadzali Jaafar confirmed that they have several camps in South Cotabato and the neighboring provinces of Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat.
He, however, cannot confirm the presence of the camps that were identified in the PPOC resolution.
Jaafar emphasized that residents in South Cotabato need not be concerned about the camps in the province because they respect the ceasefire agreement between the MILF and the Philippine government. (DED-PIA 12/ FS-SoCot-PIO)