Decommissioning of MILF fighters, weapons resumes | Inquirer News
COMMITMENT TO PEACE IN MINDANAO

Decommissioning of MILF fighters, weapons resumes

/ 04:30 AM September 28, 2022
MIFL fighters. STORY: Decommissioning of MILF fighters, weapons resumes

Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters are seen at a checkpoint of Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, on June 19, 2015. The MILF warned earlier there will be no second pace of decommissioning of their guns and combatants without the passage of their Bangsamoro Basic Law in Congress and Senate. (File photo by JEOFFREY MAITEM / Inquirer Mindanao)

COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao, Philippines — The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have resumed the decommissioning of former Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) fighters and their weapons in keeping with the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the landmark peace deal that sought to end secessionist stirrings in Mindanao.

The process was reopened on Tuesday at the Old Capitol in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao, with MILF chair Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim, who is also Bangsamoro interim chief minister; peace process adviser Carlito Galvez Jr.; and members of the Independent Decommissioning Body gracing the event.

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Under the CAB’s normalization aspect, the MILF committed to decommissioning some 40,000 BIAF combatants and “put beyond use” their weapons. Now in its third phase, the BIAF has, so far, transformed 19,345 fighters into productive civilians and handed over 2,175 weapons.

The third phase was launched in November last year, targeting 14,000 combatants. After processing 7,200 combatants, it had to be suspended by March this year due to the election period.

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The Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) and the MILF target to process up to 5,500 combatants this year, and the remaining 1,300 by early next year.

Normalization track

“Now, we are accelerating the implementation of the normalization track. As we strengthen the systems of governance in the BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), there’s a need for us to make sure that our former combatants are able to enjoy the dividends of economic growth,” said government peace implementing panel chair David Diciano.

Among those processed on Tuesday was a person with disability, taking his wheelchair and assisted by a social worker. But many were able-bodied men in their 30s.

Ebrahim admitted that some of the decommissioned combatants were young, age 30 to 40, who took the place of their parents to continue the struggle after their elders perished either during the battles or due to illness.

‘Mutual confidence’

The event is a testament to the “continued mutual confidence, trust and commitment of the government of the Philippines and the MILF to the Bangsamoro peace process,” Ebrahim said.

“We thank President Marcos Jr. for his reaffirmation of support and commitment to the peace process which he earlier demonstrated by upholding the provisions of the CAB and the Bangsamoro Organic Law that the Bangsamoro Transition Authority shall be MILF-led,” said Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal, also chair of the MILF peace implementing panel.

Social Welfare and Development Director Loreto Cabaya Jr. said they were aiming to process about 200 MILF combatants every day to meet the OPAPRU target.

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TAGS: Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, MILF decommissioning, Moro Islamic Liberation Front
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