Koronadal City, March 16, 2003 -- - Military intelligence units in Mindanao have boosted efforts to ferret out reported plans of a joint offensive by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the New People's Army (NPA) following the two rebel groups' public admission of a tactical alliance.

Maj. Gen. Generoso Senga, acting Armed Forces Southern Command chief, said, "Our intelligence units are working very hard all around the clock."

He added the military is closely coordinating with the police in this effort to further enhance their capability to thwart the expected joint MILF-NPA attack on government installations and personalities.

The public confession of a tactical alliance was admitted on radio by Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief information officer, and Jorge Madlos alias Ka Oris, spokesman for the Mindanao Commission of the National Democratic Front (NDF).

Iqbal and Madlos said the alliance was designed to boost each front's chances of surviving military assaults. "We have one common enemy that's why we agreed to have a tactical alliance in order for each group to forward its causes."

Iqbal said, "We join hands whenever the government tries to occupy a common area. We need to do it to protect an area where we move."

He added there is a political side. "The political side of the alliance [is] to educate the people of the two front's different objectives."

But he said the alliance "does not mean that the two groups have formed into one voice" against government, saying that "our respective ideologies remain as it was."

Jomar Galang, spokesman for a local communist unit in South Cotabato, earlier said, "It goes as far as firearms and combat training exchange. The MILF gave us RPGs [rocket propelled grenades] and we train Moro rebels in guerrilla warfare."

Madlos said the NDF-Mindanao recognizes the right of the Moro people to self-determination and that it will not hesitate to come to the "aid of our brothers from the MILF and the Bangsamoro."

Iqbal welcomed Madlos's pronouncement but clarified that whatever offensives the NPA rebels may launched against government, these are "clearly the initiatives of the communist guerrillas." (By ROMER SARMIENTO, Today)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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