DAVAO CITY -- Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said it welcomes the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) in Mindanao to strengthen observance of the ceasefire regime between the rebel group and government.

Abdulmanaf Mantawil, secretariat chair of the MILF peace panel, said the presence of the IMT on the ground bolster confidence on each side and lessens opportunities for sabotaging the continuing period of no hostilities between their armed forces.

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The IMT left Mindanao in November 2008 after its mandate was not renewed by the MILF and National Government panels amid a breakdown of negotiations caused by an ongoing war that broke out three months earlier.

After close to a year of engaging in armed hostilities, both the government and MILF issued separate ceasefire declarations on July last year, paving the way for peace negotiations to resume.

Both panels agreed on a new Terms of Reference for the IMT in December last year, adding in its new mandate civilian protection for which it will work with several humanitarian aid agencies and non-government groups.

Mantawil said the IMT forces will be in Mindanao towards the end of this month.

He also said the IMT deployment in Mindanao will set off the probe on alleged atrocities leveled against several MILF ground commanders in relation to the war that ensued as fallout of the aborted signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) on August 5, 2008.

He added that based on agreement by the panels, the IMT will oversee the probe on the alleged atrocities committed by MILF commanders Abdullah Macapaar alias Commander Bravo, Ameril Ombra Kato and Solaiman Pangalian during the series of armed attacks in North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte and Saranggani provinces.

Both Bravo and Pangalian were put to task for a string of civilian deaths in Lanao del Norte in the wake of the August 18, 2008 attack on Kolambugan and Kauswagan towns.

Kato, on the other hand, is accused of leading provocative actions in the Liguasan Marsh areas that ignited tensions in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.

Apart from Moro rebel forces, the probe will also cover Armed Forces commanders for alleged human rights violations committed in the course of launching counter-offensives.

The IMT returns to Mindanao amid the continuing deadlock in the negotiations for a comprehensive compact between government and the rebel group.