Pandemic delays decommissioning of 28K MILF combatants — Galvez | Inquirer News
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Pandemic delays decommissioning of 28K MILF combatants — Galvez

/ 01:31 PM September 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The government is behind in the decommissioning of 28,000 combatants due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez Jr. told senators Wednesday.

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So far, 12,000 of the 40,000 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members have been decommissioned, Galvez said during the budget hearing of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) in the Senate.

“Since then this number has not moved?” Senator Panfilo Lacson asked Galvez, who answered in the affirmative.

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According to Galvez, 14,000 MILF combatants were supposed to be decommissioned in 2020 and another 14,000 in 2022.

“So we are delayed [by] 28,000 already,” he said.

In April 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte issued an executive order to implement Annex of Normalization, one of the tracks under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which is the final peace deal signed by the government and the MILF in 2014 after four decades of conflict.

Under the CAB, the normalization phase will follow after the political track, which has been accomplished with the passage of the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which Duterte signed in 2018.

‘Boost funding’

Galvez, meanwhile, called on the Senate to increase OPAPP’s budget after its original request to the Department of Budget and Management was slashed by over P6 billion.

He said OPAPP requested a P8.3-billion budget for 2022 but the DBM approved only a funding of nearly P1.9 billion, or 22.6 percent of its initial request.

“The total OPAPP budget originally amounted to [P8.3 billion], which covers major programs including continuing engagement with former rebel groups. Per DBM recommendation, the NEP (National Expenditure Program)-approved [budget] for 2022 amounted to P1.9 billion,” he noted.

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In asking the Senate for an increase, Galvez said OPAPP “further reviewed and reprioritized programs and budget for reconsideration of Congress” considering the “limited fiscal space and priority framework of government.”

Instead of the whole P8.3-billion originally requested by OPAPP, Galvez asked the Senate to boost their budget to P4.66 billion, or an additional of P2.77 billion.

“I humbly reiterate the need to boost the funding of OPAPP’s most critical programs in support of the peace process,” he said.

“While our country faces immense challenges in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic, the precious lives and potential of millions of Filipinos in conflict affected areas should not be compromised,” he added.

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TAGS: 2022 budget, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, OPAPP, Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., Senate
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