Joint gov't, MILF anti-drug operation leads to arrest of 13

JOINT OPERATION. Authorities present firearms recovered during a joint anti-drug operation by the government and the MILF. All photos from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

JOINT OPERATION. Authorities present firearms recovered during a joint anti-drug operation by the government and the MILF.

All photos from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

MANILA, Philippines – At least 13 men believed to be members of an armed group involved in the drug trade in North Cotabato were arrested in a joint anti-drug operation conducted by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from October 5 to 11.

Those arrested were "henchmen" of Samad Masgal alias Commander Madrox, according to a press statement from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) released Saturday, October 15.

In August, at least 4 of his followers also died during a similar operation by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the MILF.

Those arrested this October were turned over recently by the AFP 602nd Infantry Brigade as well as elements of the MILF Central Mindanao Front to the Philippine National Police in the provincial police office of Cotabato, as witnessed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Soccsksargen.

The 13 who have outstanding warrants of arrest are as follows:

Commander Madrox, meanwhile, remains at large.

"[T]he fight against illegal drugs transcends all affiliations and it even unites people with diverse backgrounds," said PDEA Soccsksargen Regional Director Lyndon Aspacio.

"We are very delighted that the coming together of the PNP, the AFP, and the addition of the MILF among our allies against illegal drugs is becoming a reality," he said in Filipino.

ARRESTED. The operation led to the arrest of 13 men believed to be followers of Samad Masgal alias Commander Madrox

ARRESTED.

The operation led to the arrest of 13 men believed to be followers of Samad Masgal alias Commander Madrox

The joint operation was conducted in the areas of Nabalawag, Kapinpilan, and Kadingilan in Midsayap, North Cotabato.

The joint Government of the Philippines (GPH)-MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) as well as the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) coordinated with authorities for the joint operation "since it was conducted in areas with strong MILF presence."

During the operation, authorities recovered the following:

In July, the CCCH and AHJAC signed an agreement of cooperation and coordination concerning the campaign against illegal drugs in MILF-controlled areas.

Among others, the agreement covers:

Rappler.com