12,000 Moro rebels demobilized this year
COTABATO CITY — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would demobilize some 12,000 of its combatants this year, according to Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr.
MILF chair and now Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Interim Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim earlier said that as many as 40,000 combatants would be decommissioned by phase once key milestones of the peace process are achieved.
The ceremonial decommissioning of 145 combatants was completed in 2015 under former President Benigno Aquino III.
Executive order finalized
Galvez urged the security sector, particularly the police, to establish good rapport with the members of the MILF to avoid jeopardizing the Bangsamoro peace process.
Galvez issued the statement in the wake of the crafting of the Executive Order (EO) on the Normalization Process, which would involve the decommissioning of MILF fighters and their firearms and the transformation of former MILF camps into progressive economic zones.
Galvez said it was very important for the police and other security forces to fully understand the intricacies of the Bangsamoro peace process.
He warned that a single miscalculation on the part of the security forces could have a major impact on the region’s peace and security situation.
For this initiative to succeed, the chief peace adviser stressed the importance of fostering stronger relationship with the MILF, especially among former fighters.
“We should start to communicate and establish confidence-building measures, build good relationship with them,” Galvez told members of the Philippine National Police assigned in the BARMM.
BARMM replaced the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao following two plebiscites in January and February this year that ratified the Bangsamoro Organic Law, a law anchored on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the final peace deal between the government and the MILF in 2014 that ended four decades of conflict that left at least 120,000 individuals dead, including civilians.
The normalization process is one of the annexes of the CAB.
The EO on the Normalization Process is a comprehensive plan of the national government designed to help former MILF fighters as they undergo the delicate transition to becoming noncombatants, Galvez said.
Galvez said the BARMM regional police would play a critical role in maintaining the peace and order in the region, especially in communities where combatants would be decommissioned.
Under the EO, the PNP will be part of several transitional bodies and will need at least 1,600 police personnel.
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