Malaysian team prepares to monitor Philippine peace process
MANILA, Feb. 19 – A nine-man Malaysian survey team is in southern Philippines to make final preparation for the arrival and deployment of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) before the end of the month. Lt. Gen. Datuk Raja Mohamed AFFANDI bin Raja Mohamed Noor, Armed Forces chief of staff of Malaysia, is the head of delegation.
Maj. Gen. Datuk BAHAROM bin Hamzah is the incoming head of mission of the IMT,
Other members of the Malaysian delegation are Noor HISHAM bin Rosle of the Malaysian Defence Ministry, Col. Mohd Zahar Hashim, Malaysian defense attaché in the Philippines; Asst. Supt. Haizam SHAH bin Othman of the Malaysian police; Lt. Cmdr. ANAS bin Yahya of the Malaysian Navy; Lt. Col. Ahmad JAMALUDIN bin Royan and Lt. Col. IBRAHIM bin Yasir, and a representative from the Malaysian Consul General’s office based in Davao City.
First deployed in Southern Philippines in 2004, the 60-man IMT is tasked to monitor the peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
In addition to Malaysia, other IMT-member countries are Brunei, Libya, and Japan.
However, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael E. Seguis, chairman of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) peace panel, said the governments of Norway, Indonesia, and Qatar have been invited to join the IMT.
The GRP and MILF peace panels met in Kuala Lumpur on Dec. 8 last year for the first time in 17 months to renew their call for the resumption of the stalled peace talks following the aborted signing of the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) which was declared by the Philippine Supreme Court as unconstitutional.
But during the lull of the peace talks, both parties continued their back-channeling efforts to revive the peace negotiations.
A recent progress in the GRP-MILF peace process is the formation of the International Contact Group (ICG) composed of Britain, Japan, Turkey, and other organizations such as the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD), Asia Foundation, and Conciliation Resources.
The Philippine government has also embarked on capability-building initiatives through the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) for projects involving socio-economic reconstruction and development of conflict affected areas in Mindanao, in cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
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