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MILF CHIEF MAKES FIRST VISIT TO MAGUINDANAO MILITARY CAMP



Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, the Army's 6th Infantry Division commander (right), and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chief Al Haj Murad Ebrahim (center) shake hands during the latter's visit on Sunday to Camp Siongco, Maguindanao. (Photo courtesy of 6th Infantry Division) 

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao -- In an unprecedented move, the military on Sunday welcomed the leader of its former archenemy in a visit to its camp, an act seen by many as a reconciliation gesture.

Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division chief, welcomed Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in a symbolic act of peace.

The visit was seen as Ebrahim's way of reciprocating the August 2018 visit of Sobejana to the MILF main base in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

Sobejana said he invited Murad as a gesture of the military’s primacy to the government peace effort here in the southern Philippines.

“I never dreamt of coming over here,” the 71-year-old Ebrahim told military officials and personnel here.

“Actually, we were never enemies; we were in a situation where we need to perform our mandates and duties, you as state forces and us as a group fighting for our right to self-determination,” Ebrahim said.

Since the 70s when the rebellion erupted in Mindanao, government forces and Moro gunmen have been violently trading bullets whenever they crossed path until a peace deal was reached in recent years.

Sobejana said they will always support all government peace initiatives "for this is what the Army stands for." 

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