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12,000 MILF fighters to be decommissioned

Duterte to appoint Galvez next week as peace adviser

Carlito Galvez Jr.

BULUAN, MAGUINDANAO — The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are hammering out the guidelines for the implementation of the normalization phase of their peace process, which includes the decommissioning of 12,000 combatants “within this year,” according to Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr.

President Duterte on Monday approved the executive order on the implementation of the Annex on Normalization, one of the tracks under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the final peace deal signed by the government and the MILF in 2014 after four decades of conflict.

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Galvez said both sides were targeting to finish the implementing rules and regulations of the normalization aspect next month.

4 major components

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He identified the four major components of the normalization process as the security aspect, socioeconomic development program, confidence-building measures, and transitional justice and reconciliation.

The centerpiece of the security component is the decommissioning of MILF combatants and putting their weapons beyond use, and the disbandment of private armed groups.

Under the normalization track, Galvez said the MILF forces would be decommissioned in four phases, of which the ceremonial decommissioning of 145 combatants was completed in 2015 under former President Benigno Aquino III.

“Thirty percent, or more or less 12,000 combatants, [are] scheduled [for decommissioning] late this year,” Galvez said in a statement on Thursday.

Another 35 percent will be decommissioned in 2020, while the remaining will be done in 2021-2022 before the signing of the exit agreements, he added.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said earlier the provincial government was willing to help bring normalcy to the lives of decommissioned combatants.

“Guns only bring chaos,” he said in support of the disarming of MILF fighters.

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At press time, Von Al Haq, spokesperson of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, the MILF’s armed wing, had yet to comment on the issue.

MILF chair Murad Ebrahim earlier said they had “as much as 40,000 combatants” for phased decommissioning as key milestones in the peace process are achieved.

Under the CAB, the normalization phase will follow after the political track, which has been complied with the passage of Republic Act No. 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, popularly called the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which Mr. Duterte signed last year.

During a plebiscite on Jan. 21, voters ratified the BOL that abolished the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and created the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Leadership training

The European Union will help give leadership training to 41 “middle executives” from the MILF as part of the economic bloc’s contribution for a “smooth and stable” transition to the BARMM.

EU Ambassador Franz Jessen said the upcoming transition was “definitely critical” but it “presents an opportunity for all actors to work in a harmonious spirit to lay down a solid foundation for political, economic and social stability in Mindanao.”

“The EU remains committed to support the need for a better future for Bangsamoro and its people—the aspirations and visions for the future of every well-meaning citizen, not only of Bangsamoro but outside of Bangsamoro,” he said.

The EU delegation, which represents the EU’s executive body, the European Commission, said the 41 middle executives from the MILF would be trained on public policy, governance and management by the Cambodia-based Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, and the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute.

Out of the 41 trainees, six members are coming from the MILF central committee.

“It is expected that the middle managers will be the gatekeepers for the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) members and therefore will play a crucial role in providing technical support to the BTA members,” the delegation said.

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TAGS: Bangsamoro, decommissioned, duterte, EU, fighters, Mangudadatu, MILF, MILF chair Murad Ebrahim
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