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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

CM Ebrahim creates reconciliation task force to address skirmishes in Pikit

COTABATO CITY—A reconciliation task force aimed to mitigate and resolve the sporadic skirmishes occurring in the town of Pikit in Cotabato Province was created after Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim called a meeting on Saturday, Nov. 12 to discuss issues concerning peace and order in the said town.

The Task Force on Reconciliation, which will be headed by Senior Minister Abdulraof Macacua, will have a broad base to include representatives from Cotabato Local Government Units (LGUs), 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (PA), BARMM’s Police Regional Office (PRO-BAR), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and other sectors.

Some root causes of the conflicts were identified during the meeting. These include land issues and injustices which were not redressed in the past. Accordingly, long-term solutions will be identified and while the participants in the meeting recognized that these solutions may take time, everyone agreed to tirelessly work for its achievement.

Additionally, two (2) panels under the Task Force were immediately created. These panels will work for the prevention of further violence and also in ensuring that the conflicts do not result to a religious divide in the areas of Pikit, Aleosan, and BARMM’s Special Geographic Area (SGA).

The Chief Minister said the creation of a reconciliation committee would prevent the back and forth retaliations from parties involved in the feud. He believes that this mechanism will ward off the escalation of conflict in the area.

“We should identify the root cause of the problem and strengthen the reconciliation so that we could start to negotiate as soon as possible,” Ebrahim said.

It can be recalled that several shooting encounters happened in the town of Pikit this year alone which bothered the people of this town and nearby areas. Many were even displaced as a result of the fire shot exchanges between armed groups.

Existing mechanisms in the LGUs of Pikit and Cotabato Province that are addressing the issue shall continue to operate. Meanwhile, the newly created Task Force of the Bangsamoro Government will build on the work of these mechanisms in close coordination.

MILF commanders and the leaders of the Christian communities in Cotabato Province signified their commitment to work together to deescalate violence in the area.

Saturday’s meeting was prompted by the visit of Pikit Mayor Sumulong Sultan to the Chief Minister on Thursday, Nov. 10, where he requested the assistance of the BARMM leadership in addressing the peace and order condition in his town.

Also present during the meeting were Senior Minister Abdulraof Macacua, Public Works Minister Eduard Guerra, and Interior and Local Government Minister Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo, 6th ID Commander Maj. Gen. Roy M. Galido, representatives from the LGUs of Cotabato Province, Pikit, Aleosan, PRO-BAR, Senior Commanders of the MILF, and Christian leaders in the affected areas, whom all signified their commitment to work together to prevent the escalation of violence in the area. (Aisah Abas/BIO)

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