AFP halts offensive vs Lawless MILF Groups

July 23, 2009 9:40 am 

MANILA, July 23 — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is suspending its operations against the rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as part of the government initiatives to resume the peace talks with the MILF.

AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. said the Suspension of Offensive Military Operations (SOMO) will take effect Thursday midnight, bringing to an end the offensive that started nearly a year ago.

The military leadership ordered an offensive against the so-called Lawless MILF Groups (LMGs) on Aug. 18, last year, following rebel attacks in Iligan City and several towns in Lanao del Norte that left nearly 30 civilians and troops dead.

Military officials have said that at least 80 government troops and about 278 rebels have died since the offensive was launched.

"The Armed Forces of the Philippines, upon the order of its Commander-in-Chief, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, will suspend all its offensive operations in the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao to make way for a more stable environment for the peace talks between the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)," said Brawner.

"The Armed Forces shall now revert to Active Defense Mode for the purpose of self-defense and protection of civilians and vital installations," he added.

Furthermore, Brawner said that the AFP shall now play a support role to the Philippine National Police (PNP) in continuing its law enforcement activities to bring the three renegade MILF commanders to the bars of justice.

"All AFP commanders were directed to strictly comply with this directive which is to take effect at midnight today," he said. (PNA) scs/VR

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