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P1-M package awaits former MILF fighters

P1-M package awaits former MILF fighters

NO MORE FIGHTING Members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces are preparing to lay down their arms and return to civilian life as part of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s peace deal with the government. —JEOFFREY MAITEM

COTABATO CITY—When more than 1,000 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) are decommissioned on Saturday, they will not worry about the future of their families as each of them can avail of as much as P1 million worth of assistance from the government.

This group of fighters comprises the first to be decommissioned in a series of rites that signifies the transformation of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from an armed revolutionary organization to a social movement that would pursue its goals through democratic means.

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Bangsamoro Interior Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said a cash assistance of P100,000 would be given to each former MILF combatant as part of the recovery and integration package.

“Health, social and housing benefits amounting to P950,000 each are also included in the package of assistance to the decommissioned members as they rejoin mainstream society,” Sinarimbo told reporters recently.

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The Office of the President had instructed the Department of Budget and Management to release the P2.024-billion Normalization Trust Fund for 12,000 MILF combatants, according to a news release from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp). Part of the funds will be spent for cash assistance.

Peace deal

Opapp said it also entered into an agreement with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to manage the “immediate cash assistance” for former MILF fighters.

The 40,000-member BIAF is the MILF’s armed wing. Its decommissioning, done by phases, is part of the peace deal that the MILF signed with the government in March 2014.

President Duterte is expected to grace the Sept. 7 ceremony in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao province.

P1-M package awaits former MILF fighters

HOME To Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters, Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, is a safe haven and home for their families. —REM ZAMORA

Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Carlito Galvez Jr. said the group of 1,060 former combatants was part of the target of 12,000 BIAF members covered by the first phase of decommissioning.

Retired Army Col. Dickson Hermoso, now Bangsamoro Minister of Transportation and Communications, said the process involved actual disarming of weapons and demobilization of combatants.

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“These combatants will be enrolled in the socioeconomic reintegration program to make them productive citizens, including their families and communities,” Hermoso said.

A decommissioned BIAF member will then be trained and provided farming tools, if he chooses to become a farmer, or fishing gear and equipment, if he prefers fishing, Hermoso said.

Oversight

The former MILF fighters are expected to surrender 920 firearms.

The Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB), which was created by the government and the MILF, oversees the process—from verification and profiling of combatants to safekeeping and disposition of firearms. The IDB is headed by a nominee of the Turkish government.

The IDB will keep the firearms in a storage facility agreed by both parties and will be guarded by members of the Joint Peace and Security Teams, which are in turn, composed of MILF and government contingents.

Decommissioning involves “putting beyond use” the BIAF’s cache of firearms and facilitating the transition of fighters to full civilian life.

Galvez vowed to ensure that BIAF members would “receive a decent comprehensive and sustainable socioeconomic package.”

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TAGS: assistance, Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, BIAF, MILF, Mindanao peace, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, peace
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