Alleged 50% 'cut' in rebel returnees' cash aid bared in Senate

Alleged 50% ‘cut’ in rebel returnees’ cash aid bared in Senate

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 01:43 PM February 20, 2024

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels

FILE PHOTO: Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels stand guard at the entry of Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on September 7, 2019 ahead of a weapons decommissioning ceremony. Former MILF fighters complained before Senator Jinggoy Estrada that their commanders are allegedly getting a 50 percent “cut” from the P100,000 cash grant given to them by the government. (Photo by Ferdinandh CABRERA / AFP)

MANILA, Philippines — Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commanders are allegedly getting a 50 percent “cut” from the P100,000 cash grant given to rebel returnees.

Former MILF fighters made this revelation when they personally met with Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Tuesday to complain against their commanders. Estrada said Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. was also in the meeting.


“Ang naging problema po nito, itong mga MILF rebel returnees ay nabigyan po ng P100,000 na pinangako po ng gobyerno pero nung pagbigay sa kanila ng P100,00 ‘yung kanilang mga commander ay kinuha po ‘yung kalahati and that is one of their concerns,” the senator said during the hearing of the Senate committee on national defense.


(The problem is that these MILF rebel returnees were given P100,000 as promised by the government, but when they received the P100,000, their commanders took half of it, and that is one of their concerns)

“And if we have 26,000 combatants who are willing to surrender, eh P1.3 billion ‘yung hindi mapupunta dun sa mismong mga rebel returnees kundi sa mga commanders, so siguro kailangan na nating pa-imbestigahan ‘yung ganitong klaseng problema,” the panel head added.

(And if we have 26,000 combatants who are willing to surrender, that’s P1.3 billion that won’t go to the actual rebel returnees but to the commanders, so perhaps we need to investigate this kind of problem)

The defense panel being headed by Estrada has been investigating the conduct of the decommissioning of the MILF forces and weapons.

Galvez earlier reported that 26, 132 MILF combatants and 4,625 weapons have already been decommissioned as part of the peace agreement between the group and the government. The peace pact was signed in March 2014.


The rebel returnees received a P100,000 cash grant each.

“Nakatanggap nga sila ng P100,000 galing sa DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) at pagkatapos nilang tanggapin yung pera na galing sa DSWD ay kinausap sila ng mag commanders nila at hinihingan sila ng kalahati subalit yung P50,000 lang yung napunta dun sa mga rebel returness,” the senator went on.

(They did receive P100,000 from the DSWD, and after they accepted the money from the DSWD, their commanders approached them and asked for half of it; only P50,000 ended up going to the rebel returnees)

READ: ‘We’re not corrupt’: Galvez feuds with Tulfo at Senate hearing

Estrada later asked the head of the MILF’s Peace Implementing Panel Secretariat, Engineer Mahajirin Ali, about this allegation.

But Ali said they are still validating this report as they are also worried if indeed there is truth to it.

“’Yun ho ang continuously na vina-validate po namin Mr. Chair kasi worried din po kami kung sakali ganun po ang magiging arrangement kasi very clear po sa decommissioning na lahat po ng weapons na ide-decommission ay organizationally owned po naide-decomission from MILF,” he said.

(That’s what we are continuously validating, Mr. Chair, because we are also worried if such would be the arrangement because it is evident in the decommissioning process that all weapons to be decommissioned are organizationally owned, decommissioned from the MILF)

“So hindi po pwe-pwedeng pakikialaman po nung mga commanders ‘yung mga in-extend pong intervention, especially ‘yung cash. We’ll be very happy kung ma-provide po kami ng detalye regarding this concern dahil definitely the leadership of the MILF will not tolerate po ‘yung mga ganung practice at masa-subject sa disciplinary action ‘yung mga commanders na ganun po yung ginagawa,” Ali added.

(The commanders can’t touch the interventions, especially the cash. We’ll be pleased if details regarding this concern could be provided to us because, definitely, the leadership of the MILF will not tolerate such practices, and commanders who engage in such behavior will be subject to disciplinary action.)

Estrada shared the apprehension, noting that the government might end up paying for the MILF’s weapons if, indeed, half of the cash grants intended for the rebel returnees are going to the pockets of their commanders.

“And that’s quite possible,” he pointed out.

Ali agreed to the senator, saying: “As a human being po Mr. Chair, posible po ‘yung mangyari hindi ho natin alam.”

(As a human being, Mr. Chair, it is possible for things to happen that we are not aware of.)

He reiterated his request to have a copy of the report so they could validate and conduct their own investigation.

On the part of the government peace implementing panel, co-chairman Cesar Yano, confirmed hearing about the “cut.”

“I’m glad na nabanggit po ‘nyo ‘yung issue about the cut. Totoo po ‘yan, may narinig po ako as panel of the Philippine side pero ito pong bagay na ito nabanggit ko po ito kay Minister Iqbal during our private discussion…” Yano said.

(I’m glad that you mentioned the issue about the cut. That’s true. I have heard about it as part of the Philippine side panel. However, I brought this matter up to Minister Iqbal during our private discussion…)

He was referring to his counterpart, MILF panel chair Mohagher Iqbal.

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“Binanggit ko po ito sa kanya ito. Ang sabi ko sa kanya ito, Minsiter may narinig po ako ng ganito at sinabi po n’ya sa akin I’m aware about it and I’m addressing this issue ..” Yano further said.

(I mentioned this to him. I told him, ‘Minister, I have heard about this,’ and he informed me, ‘I’m aware of it, and I’m addressing this issue.)

TAGS: aid, MILF, rebel returnees, Senate

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