ZAMBOANGA CITY – The provincial government of Tawi-Tawi, with the help of the Joint Task Force (JTF) Tawi-Tawi, was able to dismantle a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) camp at a coastal area of Bongao, the capital town of the province.
Tawi-Tawi Governor Yshmael I. Sali said on Friday, January 29, that his office, in coordination with JTF Tawi-Tawi, was able to settle an emerging security concern in the province with the dismantling of an MNLF camp in Bongao.
“We do not allow any organization to establishment a camp or camps in this province except for those legitimate security forces like the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) here in Tawi-Tawi,” Sali said.
According to him, the MNLF started to establish the camp in 2018 in Barangay Lakit-Lakit, which is a coastal village in Bongao.
The camp which was accessible by watercraft, and 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.
Sali said the provincial government exhausted all diplomatic means to compel the MNLF to peacefully dismantle and vacate their unauthorized encampment, but they declined to heed their call.
“The slow compliance of the MNLF to dismantle their camp has led the provincial government seek the assistance of the JTF-Tawi-Tawi,” Sali said.
He added that on Wednesday, January 27, they were able to conduct another dialogue with MNLF leadership to dismantle the camp immediately.
This led to the peaceful dismantling of the MNLF camp, according to JTF Tawi-Tawi Commander Brig. Gen. Arturo Rojas.
“We will establish a temporary marine post in the area to ensure the safety and security of the people,” Rojas said.
“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,” he added
Armed Force of the Philippines- Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) Commander Lt Gen Corleto Vinluan, Jr. said the setting up of a camp by the MNLF caused alarm among the residents, prompting 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.
“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.” Vinluan said.