The military has tightened security in central Mindanao amid fears that armed groups will try to sabotage the ongoing peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Colonel Prudencio Asto, Army 6th Infantry Division spokesman, said members of the 1st Mechanized Brigade intensified checkpoints at “strategic locations” along the National Highway in Maguindanao, especially the stretch from Guindulungan to Shariff Aguak.

“The ongoing peace talks between the government and the MILF peace panels is so volatile and still unstable that any act of sabotage by any partisan group can have an adverse affect on the outcome of the negotiations,” Asto said in a statement.

“The aggressive conduct of these checkpoints is being done as a proactive response,” he added.

Asto, in a phone interview, said the security measure is aimed at preventing all armed groups, including the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, from creating a stituation that would hamper the peace process.

“Pag may usapan kasi laging may gustong manggulo,” he said.

“Hindi sila puwede lalo na sa highway, ‘pag nakita namin sa highway na may dalang baril, didisarmahan at aarestuhin,” Asto added.

On Tuesday, the MILF rejected a government offer to expand autonomy instead of forming what the rebels called a “sub-state.”

The rejection came on the second day of formal talks for a peace agreement between government and MILF negotiators in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Ranking officials from both sides said the rejection does not mean that the talks failed. (John Roson)

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