12 June 2017

News Story: MILF volunteer, rescue workers cited

By Non Alquitran and John Unson

MANILA, Philippines -  A Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) volunteer is at the forefront of saving the lives of civilians caught in the fierce fighting between government forces and the Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute group and Abu Sayyaf in Marawi City.

Since volunteering for the job last week, Oshama Ali has been involved in the rescue of 217 civilians trapped in hostilities in the Islamic city in Mindanao.

“Everybody is afraid to venture into the area where fighting is ongoing. But the objective is to deliver humanitarian aid and save lives. Because if you manage to save lives, it’s a big deal for us (in the MILF),” Oshama said.

At the height of the clashes in late May, MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza met with President Duterte to discuss the concept of the peace corridor, a safe route civilians trapped in the conflict.

After the President immediately approved the concept’s implementation, the MILF leaders chose Oshama to act as team leader for the Joint Coordination, Monitoring, and Assistance Center (JCMAC), the body that protects the Peace Corridor.

The JCMAC is composed of volunteers from the government, MILF, and Non-Violent Peace Force tasked to provide a safe route for affected civilians.

Prior to his appointment to the JCMAC, Oshama has also been serving as a member of the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), a body that addresses criminality and terrorism in areas with MILF presence.

The peace corridor was established in the three-kilometer stretch of Banggulo Bridge to Quezon Avenue to allow the unhampered rescue of the trapped civilians and relief operations for the evacuees.

Read the full story at PhilStar