FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE. Brig. Gen. Domingo Gobway, Joint Task Force (JTF)-Basilan commander (left, standing) led the distribution of the government’s financial assistance on Wednesday (Nov. 16, 2022) to the families of the seven Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members slain in skirmishes with military forces last week in Barangay Ulitan, Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan. Assisting Gobway distribute the aid is Dan Asnawie (2nd from right, standing), a member of the BARMM parliament and commander of the MILF's 114th Base Command in the province. (Photo courtesy of JTF-Basilan)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The national government’s Joint Task Force (JTF)-Basilan extended financial assistance to the families of seven Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members killed in last week’s skirmishes with military forces.

In a statement Thursday JTF-Basilan commander Brig. Gen. Domingo Gobway said the financial assistance was distributed to the wives and families of the slain MILF members in a simple ceremony at the headquarters of the 18th Infantry Battalion (IB) in Barangay Campo Uno, Lamitan City, Basilan.

Dan Asnawie, a member of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao parliament and commander of the MILF’s 114th Base Command in Basilan, joined Gobway in Wednesday’s aid distribution.

Both Gobway and Asnawie agreed to strengthen their partnership in forging peace, security and sustainable development in the province.

The two also considered the incident as lessons learned by both parties that communication and common understanding plays a vital role as peacemakers.

The clashes erupted on Nov. 8 after a soldier stationed at a detachment in Barangay Ulitan, Ungkaya Pukan town, was slightly bruised by sniper fire from an area occupied by MILF members and lawless elements.

On Nov. 10, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF agreed to a cease-fire ending the sporadic clashes between the soldiers and MILF forces in the area.

Three soldiers were killed and 12 others, including a junior officer, were wounded during the skirmishes.

Gobway extended his condolences to the bereaved family of both military and MILF men.

“It shows how peace is really important in our community. No one wins in the war; it just makes our life miserable,” said Gobway, also concurrent commander of the Army’s 101st Infantry Brigade.

Meanwhile, a Joint Peace and Security Team (JPST) will be activated to stabilize the situation and monitor security concerns in Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan.

The JPST, composed of personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and MILF, will serve as a peacekeeping force in Ungkaya Pukan town. (PNA)