| Hakim Hayat |
THE Brunei contingent for the 10th International Monitoring Team (IMT) Group yesterday returned safely after concluding a 10-month peace-monitoring mission in conflict-stricken Mindanao, Philippines.
The contingent comprising eight Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) and one Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) personnel were welcomed by the guest of honour, the Commissioner of RBPF, Dato Paduka Seri Awang Bahrin bin Mohd Noor at the Rimba Air Base yesterday afternoon.
The commissioner later released the IMT armbands from the nine personnel, officially marking the conclusion of their duties in the 10th IMT Group.
The contingent was led by Lieutenant Colonel Khairil bin Hj Ismail and comprised of Major (U) Sherpor Nezam bin Abdul Ghapor, Major Moza Syaffiarizal bin Hj Mohammad, ASP Eric Chin, Captain Mohd Hishamuddin bin Hj Marzoki, Captain (U) Wan Muhd Azem bin Hj Md Aminuddin, Warrant Officer 1 Suhaimi bin Rajab, Warrant Officer 1 Abu Bakar bin Abd Rahman and Corporal Amirul bin Kipli.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Khairil, the majority of their tasks involved the surveillance of municipals and villages and interaction with local villagers about the peace agreement that is in process.
“At the same time our other tasks included attending a peace advocacy programme that aimed to disseminate contents of the ceasefire agreement between the Philippines Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” he added.
He also shared some of the challenging tasks the group faced throughout the mission, especially in resolving the conflict between the two fighting sides.
“For instance if a clash occurs between the MILF and the Christians, due to issues such as land or property or personal grudges, the IMT’s role comes into play in dispersing and neutralising these two parties from fighting,” he said.
Meanwhile, RBPF officer ASP Eric Chin said he gained good experience throughout the mission though he face many challenges along the way.
Eric, who received training in Japan at a United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Course, shared that his experience was an eye-opener.
“Of course it is a different kind of environment, not like our peaceful country and there were many challenges. The Mindanao local community has little trust in the police because they view the police as their enemy and they put more trust in the rebel force. One of my tasks was to convince them to work together with the local police,” he said.
Led by Malaysia, the IMT’s primary mission is to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire agreement inked in 2003. Brunei began deploying its contingent under IMT in 2004 and since 2012; the contingent grew to include members of the RBPF.
Just recently the 11th batch of Brunei IMT was deployed to continue its mission and support to the ceasefire agreement as well as to maintain the momentum for the resolution of the conflict in Mindanao, monitoring the socio-economic development aspects of the agreement signed between both parties.
Over the years, Brunei Darussalam has accumulated a great deal of experience with regards to peace-support operations.
Therefore the deployment of the Brunei contingent as a supporting force in the IMT is historically significant and regarded as an important commitment by the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in continuing its contribution to the peace and security of neighbouring state.