No guns, uniforms for MILF troops who will vote on election day

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 30 2022 10:10 PM

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)  AFP/file
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members secure Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on the southern island of Mindanao. Ferdinandh Cabrera, AFP/file

Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF) troops who will vote in the May 9 local and national elections are not allowed to bring guns or wear their uniform, a Philippine military official said Saturday.

"For the first time, our MILF brothers will be exercising their political right to vote. We have also to safeguard the area and remind them that in voting, wearing of MILF uniform and bringing of firearms are strictly prohibited under the protocols agreed on the ground," said Brig. Gen. Antonio Nafarrete, chairman of the government panel in the Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH).

In Maguindanao on Saturday, government and MILF officials, as well as International Monitoring Team (IMT) members and the Commission on Elections signed guidelines for ceasefire-related functions ahead of the May 9 elections.

Nafarrete said the guidelines for mutual understanding are a reminder to strengthen the agreement on the general cessation of hostilities between the two parties.

"The decommissioning is still ongoing, and as the election comes, we have to remind our forces on the ground that we still have those combatants that might be affected by these elections. Hopefully, no untoward incident will happen that is election-related," he added.

Maguindanao provincial election supervisor Atty. Muamar Guyo cited a concern raised by an election officer during an inspection of polling places.

"We have areas in the province of Maguindanao, particularly in Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, that require coordination with the GPH-MILF CCCH, especially in the distribution of election paraphernalia," he said.

MILF CCCH Chairman Butch Malang said the approved guidelines will be cascaded to the members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) for strict adherence.

"We will tell our members to follow these guidelines strictly because these are for everyone's welfare. It is but right to have a clean and honest election," Malang said.

Malang admitted they are excited to vote in the May 9 elections as this is their first time to exercise the right of suffrage.

On Saturday, 1,481 boxes of official ballots and 1,481 Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) arrived in the province. 

Guyo said the VCMs are being distributed to different municipalities and are ready for the final testing and sealing.

The officials and members of the GPH-MILF CCCH, IMT, and COMELEC also signed the pledge of commitment: 

  • To adhere to the ceasefire protocols as stipulated in the operational guidelines of the Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities of 1997 or the Ceasefire Agreement
  • Not to commit any violent or provocative actions that may trigger either my fellow MILF members, civilian populace, or the government security forces to do the same; and
  • To remain neutral and not participate in any political differences experienced on the ground. - report from Lerio Bompat
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