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MILF to gradually disarm army under peace pact, says chief gov’t negotiator

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07:53 PM December 26th, 2012

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By: Edwin O. Fernandez, December 26th, 2012 07:53 PM

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — The decommissioning of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the armed wing of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and the disarmament of its members will not take place overnight even if a final peace deal is signed, according to the chairman of the government’s peace panel.

“As agreed upon, the decommissioning process will be gradual and phased,” Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said in the statement, which was released by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Ferrer said these efforts would be part of a gradual process in relation to the final peace agreement as agreed upon by the negotiators.

But while the decommissioning and the disarmament would “not happen at once,” Ferrer said both the government and the MILF would be taking steps to normalize the situation on the ground and prevent any violence between the government and rebel troops.

“…(B)oth parties are expected to take steps that will aid in securing the peace and stability on the ground and to continue to build confidence in each other’s sincerity to deliver what has been agreed upon,” Ferrer said.

Earlier, MILF chieftain Murad Ebrahim told the Malaysian government-run Bernama National News Agency and the Philippines News Agency during the sidelines of the 8th World Islamic Economic Forum held in Johor Bahru from Dec. 4-6 that the decommissioning of MILF fighters would only start upon the setting up of the Bangsamoro government.

In the same interview, Ebrahim said the issue was still being discussed by the peace panels.

“Both parties needed to create the proper situation on the ground first, before starting the process of decommissioning,” he was quoted as saying by the two government-run news outfits.

Ebrahim also told Bernama and the PNA that the MILF would also push for the decommissioning of government militias in areas covered by the Bangsamoro territory.

“They should also be subjected to decommissioning,” he was quoted as saying.

In a separate statement emailed to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Ferrer said the peace panels, through the technical working groups, would hammer out the “indicative timetable that will match every political milestone with corresponding socio-economic and security measures.”

The government maintains its determination to come to an agreement with the MILF and find a just and lasting solution to the so-called Mindanao problem, according to Coronel-Ferrer.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles said President Aquino’s issuance of Executive Order 120 – which created the Transition Commission or the body tasked to formulate the charter of the Bangsamoro – only affirmed the government’s resolve “to move forward the peace process for the Bangsamoro as a strategic initiative for political stability and economic development.”

The composition of the TC is now being finalized through a screening process, with both the government and the MILF making their respective recommendations.

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