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Decommissioning of MILF fighters also recognition of atrocities vs Bangsamoro—CHR

/ 03:19 PM September 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines—Aside from signalling the start of a peaceful era in strife-torn Mindanao, the decommissioning of more than 1,000 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters was also a recognition of atrocities committed against the Bangsamoro people for decades, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said on Thursday, Sept. 12.

“The commission lauds the start of the decommissioning process of MILF combatants,” said Jacqueline de Guia, CHR spokesperson, in a statement.

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“This is a historic milestone” which “signals a new chapter toward sustainable peace,” she said.

“This historic progress is also a triumph in transitional justice in recognition of the numerous historical injustices suffered by the Bangsamoro people,” she added.

The history of the Bangsamoro people is replete with accounts of injustices committed against them starting with Spanish and American colonizers to the martial law regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos during which happened the burning of Jolo.

Several Mindanaoans had hoped that peace would be attained under President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, as he hails from Mindanao.

READ: Historical truth and Bangsamoro autonomy

READ: A dialectical explanation of the Bangsamoro problem

The decommissioned fighters are only part of the first batch of combatants to surrender their arms, as the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) takes shape.

At least 920 firearms and 20 other heavy weapons were given up in the process, which Duterte said was a significant step towards long-lasting peace — even as MILF leader Murad Ebrahim clarified that giving up arms is not tantamount to giving up on the struggle of the Bangsamoro people.

READ: Duterte: MILF decommissioning ‘a huge step’ towards peace

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READ: MILF’s Murad: Decommissioning is not surrender

The CHR said it also hoped that the socio-economic package given to the combatants would also help them in living normal, civilian lives, praising the government and MILF’s commitment to the peace process.

Through the peace process’ socio-economic package, De Guia said the CHR was hopeful that combatants “can finally transition to civilian and productive lives for good” alongside the conversion of six MILF camps into “peaceful and productive communities.”

De Guia said, however, that there was so much more work to do, like bringing back normalcy to Marawi City, which was left in ruins by the war on local affiliates of Islamic State in 2017.

She said as the peace process progresses, the government should also give priority to rehabilitating Marawi and addressing “grievances of the displaced people.” This, she said, would “ensure that no new seed of conflict would be sown among those that suffered from the siege.”

Hundreds of residents are still homeless and displaced two years after the war in Marawi. They and civic workers had complained about the slow pace of the city’s reconstruction.

Administration critics have called on the government to speed up the rehabilitation, but President Rodrigo Duterte had said that he would leave the job of rebuilding Marawi to wealthy people in the area./TSB

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TAGS: Bangsamoro, Commission on Human Rights, decommissioning, MILF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Philippine news updates
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