IMT says more money and challenges after signing of peace talks

DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Maguindanao — The International Monitoring Team (IMT) representing eight Muslim countries monitoring the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) believes that greater challenges on peace building in Mindanao lies after the signing of the peace accord that both parties are eying to forge this year.

DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Maguindanao — The International Monitoring Team (IMT) representing eight Muslim countries monitoring the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) believes that greater challenges on peace building in Mindanao lies after the signing of the peace accord that both parties are eying to forge this year.

In facing the challenges, the IMT thinks it would still be needed by the government and the MILF and they may be sending personnel “composed mostly of technical men needed in developing Mindanao and less of soldiers.”

Orienting around 40 new members of the Bantay Ceasefire at the St. Joseph Convention Center here, First Admiral Mohd Som Bin Ibrahim, a Malaysian-officer of the IMT, said that the 60 soldiers representing six Islamic countries who are here to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire agreement are “willing and ready” to leave the country anytime if the government and the MILF no longer need their services.

In the event the government and the MILF want them to stay, Ibrahim said that they would reduce the military personnel from 60 to 30 to be able to send more experts in the field of development.

“Maybe 40 or only 30 (of the 60 IMT members) will be left. We will be sending more civilians and non-government organization representatives to monitor” the implementation of the peace agreement, Ibrahim said as he declared that the “the next thing to monitor is rehabilitation of communities damaged by the war and the implementation of development projects.”

He told the Bantay Ceasefire, a civilian-led monitoring group helping to ensure that the truce between the two parties is sustained, that the biggest challenge on them is to “help in the development aspect” of Mindanao as he anticipated that “there would be plenty of money” from all over the world that would be poured in for various development projects in the island once a peace accord is reached.

“There are many donor countries that already committed money for the Mindanao trust fund. The money will benefit the people,” Ibrahim stressed.

The peace talk has been going on for already 10 years, which has been made possible with the truce agreed upon by both parties and whose implementation is being closely monitored by the Bantay Ceasefire. Ibrahim was one of the resource persons to the Basic Documentation Training conducted by the Bantay Ceasefire.

“We will go back home after the signing of an agreement. But if the MILF and the government require our presence here, we will stay. Though we anticipate that even after the peace agreement is signed, we will still be here but the number will be less — and less military,” Ibrahim said.

By August, the terms of reference detailing the tasks and functions of the IMT will expire and negotiators of the government and the MILF have already expressed the need to extend the stay of the team in Mindanao.

But for the peace process to succeed, Ibrahim said that all Mindanaoans should change their mindset. “My advice is for you to change your mind. Before, you like war, now you like peace.”

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply