SIX personnel from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) departed for Mindanao in the southern part of the Philippines Tuesday to represent Brunei Darussalam in the fourth contingent of the International Monitoring Team (IMT).
The IMT is a Malaysian-led, 60-member body that oversees the implementation of the ceasefire agreement between the Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a Muslim separatist group there.
The Mindanao-bound crew boarded the Royal Brunei Air Force CN235 transport aircraft at a departing ceremony at the Hangar 'B' of the Rimba Air Force Base yesterday, witnessed by RBAF Commander Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General Dato Paduka Seri Hj Halbi Hj Md Yussof.
The fourth contingent will be taking over the duties of the third, which is due to return this afternoon.
The fresh contingent of troops comprises of four officers and two warrant officers.
They are: Major Hj Rosmadi Hj Othman, Captain Hj Hasmin Hj Lilah, Captain Sharil Affendi Hj Abdullah, Lieutenant Mohd Yusra Hj Piut, Warrant Officer Abu Sufyan Hj Metassan and Warrant Officer Pg Hj Nordin Pg Hj Sulaiman.
Their mission will involve observing and monitoring the implementation of the cessation of hostilities between the Philippines government and the MILF, along with the socio-economic development aspects under the agreement.
They will form a singular mobile team and will be located at Cotabato City, where their monitoring operations will cover the provinces and cities located therein.
In addition, throughout their tour of duty they will be provided with the privileges and immunities given to resident diplomatic representatives.
The operation highlights Brunei's contribution towards regional cooperation, and demonstrates the nation's support of peace and stability in the Southeast Asian region.
It will also provide much-needed experience and exposure for the RBAF personnel in overseas missions.
Brunei's contribution as part of the IMT has been operating in Mindanao ever since October 2004, after the Philippines government and the MILF signed the ceasefire agreement in July 2003.
Brunei and the Philippines recently carried out a combined naval exercise, codenamed Exercise Seagull, to further enhance their operational and communications interoperability against seaborne terrorist threats and other transnational crimes. (The Brunei Times)