“Bantay Ceasefire” field reports on “Camp Cararao” and the Buliok Islamic Center

This field report relates to civil society efforts to bring back the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to the negotiating table. Among the obstacles to the resumption of formal peace talks this year is the reported links of the MILF to the terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), as alleged by the government. Another contentious issue is on the pull-out of government troops from Buliok, which the MILF cites as a “precondition” to the resumption of the talks.

This field report relates to civil society efforts to bring back the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to the negotiating table. Among the obstacles to the resumption of formal peace talks this year is the reported links of the MILF to the terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), as alleged by the government. Another contentious issue is on the pull-out of government troops from Buliok, which the MILF cites as a “precondition” to the resumption of the talks.

During the Consultation-Dialogue between NGOs, civil society, peace advocates and the MILF last December 8, 2003 at Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, the Bantay Ceasefire, an independent civil-society-led monitoring team, requested the MILF Central Committee to allow an independent team to inspect one of their camps in Lanao del Sur. Camp Cararao was alleged by Defense Secretary Eduardo Ermita and top AFP officials to be the site where 31 Indonesian members of the international terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) were reportedly holding bomb making trainings.

The MILF agreed and even sent its CCCH (Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities) headed by its chair Benjie Midtimbang to join the inspection. A news team from the ABS-CBN also joined.

A second team of Bantay Ceasefire monitors also went on a field mission to assess the status of the Islamic Center in Brgy. Buliok, Pagalungan, Maguindanao, which was the target of the AFP assault in February 2003.

Read full text of report with pictures (in .PDF, 285kb, 7pp.).

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