CEASEFIRE MECHANISM. Government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ceasefire panel representatives hold a dialogue (Wednesday (Feb. 8, 2023) on the uncoordinated entry of the Army Special Forces (SF) inside the MILF camp in Lanao del Sur province on Tuesday (Feb.7, 2023). The SF unit was treated well during their overnight stay inside the MILF camp. (Photo courtesy of Lanao del Sur PPO)

COTABATO CITY – Thirty-nine members of the Army Special Forces (SF) who accidentally entered a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) acknowledge camp in Lanao del Sur province recently were not disarmed, a ceasefire panel member clarified Thursday.

“It appeared the soldiers were unaware they were within the MILF camp in Maguing. The MILF politely requested them to lay down their guns assuring them they will not be harmed and the soldiers agreed,” said Butch Malang, chair of the MILF coordinating committee on the cessation of hostilities (CCCH).

On Tuesday, the SF unit unintentionally found its way into the MILF camp in Barangay Dilimbayan in Maguing town, Lanao del Sur. Members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces 103rd base command allowed them to stay in the camp overnight.

“The MILF referred the matter to the government-MILF ceasefire panel and the issue was settled following a dialogue,” Malang said referring to the incident.

Malang said the SF unit was allowed to leave the MILF camp Wednesday afternoon “with the government forces shaking hands with MILF fighters like brothers.”

An Army official said the SFs are part of Army units hunting down terrorist groups and remnants of Dawlah Islamiya in Lanao del Sur.

“It has no intention of attacking the MILF location,” said an Army official who requested anonymity, pending the filing of an official CCCH report.

Under the GPH-MILF ceasefire agreement, the movement of government forces near MILF identified camps should be coordinated with the ceasefire committee to prevent unnecessary armed confrontation.

Observers said with cooler heads prevailing, a bloody skirmish was avoided and prevented like the 2015 misencounter in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao province that left at least 60 people dead, including policemen, MILF members, and civilians. (PNA)