Moro Islamlic Liberation Front (MILF), the biggest armed Muslim group in Philippines, has agreed to help avoid violence on the southern island during voting in next month's national and local elections, officials said on Saturday.
Named as “Guidelines for Mutual Understanding for the ceasefire-related functions for the May 10, 2010 National Elections,” the four-page document was signed by MGen Reynaldo Sealana and Toks Ebrahim, Co-Chairmen of the GRP and MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, respectively, the group said on website.
Toks Ebrahim, head of the MILF's ceasefire negotiators, said they would tell field units to avoid violence that could disrupt both the elections and other peace talks.
"We'll restrain our forces to avoid violence during the elections," he said.
Ceasefire "panels" from both sides signed an agreement on Friday.
Major-General Anthony Alcantara, army commander on southern Mindanao island, said an agreement had been reached with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that would help voting succeed.
Alcantara said the MILF had agreed to keep away from polling areas and not to mass their forces between May 3-13. "We're not allowing anybody with guns in polling areas except soldiers and police officers," he said.
“The main routes, water and land usually used by the MILF troops during movements and activities shall be left opened. Provided, however, that movements are properly coordinated earlier with the GRP CCCH and the existing ceasefire mechanisms, ” the statement said.
Filipino military launched an offensive in Moro region later since August, 2008, when Supreme Court cancelled an agreement, signed between the Philippine government and MILF.
After four decades of armed conflict between the Filipino state and the Moro Muslims, the two parties agreed to sign an agreement that would end battle. However, the supreme court of the Philippine declared the agreement "illegal" on August 4, which caused the conflict to resume.
About 50 million Filipinos will choose a president, vice president, nearly 300 lawmakers in the two-chamber Congress and more than 17,600 local government officials in the polls.
Elections in the resource-rich Southeast Asian nation are always colourful -- Congress candidates this year include President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Imelda Marcos and boxing champion Manny Pacquiao -- but are also marked by violence and fraud as clans vie for provincial power.
AgenciesLast Mod: 24 Nisan 2010, 17:28