The local government of Tawi-Tawi, in coordination with the WestMinCom’s Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi, successfully settled an emerging security concern in the province on January 28, 2021.
This came after the reported establishment of a camp by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Barangay Lakit-Lakit, Bongao, Tawi-Tawi sometime in 2018.
The said camp which is accessible by boat has become a serious security concern for the people of Bongao due to the continuous construction of perimeter houses and the reported presence of people not from the province of Tawi-Tawi.
“The setting up of a camp by the MNLF caused alarm to the residents. This prompted the local government to coordinate with the military in Tawi-Tawi to conduct a dialogue with the local MNLF officials for the camp to be dismantled,” said Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr., Commander of the Western Mindanao Command.
“This is a clear violation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the government and the MNLF hence series of dialogues were conducted by the LGU Tawi-Tawi and the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi with the local MNLF for the dismantling of the said structure,” Lt. Gen. Vinluan, Jr. added.
The local government and the military, through the 2nd Marine Brigade/Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi, exhausted all diplomatic means to compel the group to peacefully dismantle and vacate their unauthorized encampment.
“We disallow the establishment of camps except those by legitimate security forces like the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police here in Tawi-Tawi,” said Tawi-Tawi Governor Yshmael Sali.
“We have observed that the compliance was slow thus on January 27, 2021, we conducted another dialogue to compel the MNLF leadership to dismantle the camp immediately,” Governor Sali added.
On January 28, the MNLF peacefully dismantled the camp and this was witnessed by the local government officials and the military officers led by Brig. Gen. Arturo Rojas, Commander of the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi.
“We will establish a temporary marine post in the area to ensure the safety and security of the people,” said Brig. Gen. Rojas.
“Diplomacy has prevailed in the name of peace, cooperation, understanding, and strong relationships and this is attributable to the good convergence among the local chief executives, other stakeholders, and the security sector,” Brig. Gen. Rojas added. PNA.GOV.PH