Six months of peace and counting for MILF, military

There have been no clashes between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front since the start of the year, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said.

Marvic Leonen, chairman of the Government of the Philippines peace panel, said proper coordination by the Joint Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (JCCCH) has helped keep the peace in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.

The JCCCH has members from the GPH and MILF as well as from neutral parties. The committee has been checking implementation of the ceasefire and resolve complaints over alleged violations of the agreement since 2003. "The ceasefire is holding," he said.

Government forces clashed with the MILF 14 times in 2010 and eight times in 2011, OPAPP said. The last incident between the government and the MILF was in Al-Barka, Basilan in October last year. In contrast, there were 698 clashes in 2002 and 218 in 2008.

Leonen said this does not mean Mindanao has been totally quiet. He said there has been fighting between feuding families and between law enforcement agencies and lawless groups.

He said the JCCCH and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) have been helping government units coordinate with the MILF for operations against criminals in MILF-controlled areas. The AHJAG is a joint GPH-MILF initiative to deal with lawless elements in or near MILF areas.

A recent Global Peace Index report listed the Philippines as among the countries with "improvements in peacefulness," while a Pulse Asia survey conducted on May 20-26 found that around half of respondents approve of the government's efforts at peace.

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