Aquino: Decommissioning proves peace pact not a gamble | Inquirer News

Aquino: Decommissioning proves peace pact not a gamble

/ 12:19 PM June 16, 2015


Laying down their arms even before the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is approved and enacted proves that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is sincere in its dealings with the Philippine government.

That was the gist of President Benigno Aquino III’s speech on Tuesday as 145 MILF members voluntarily underwent the decommissioning process.


READ: MILF starts laying down arms

“Hindi ko masasabing sumusugal tayo sa pakikipag-usap sa MILF. Tsambahan po ang sugal at wala kang hawak na pruweba sa kapalaran mo,” Aquino said. “Ito pong ginagawa natin ngayon ay napakatibay na patunay na buo at busilak na pakikiisa ng MILF sa ating usaping pangkapayapaan at sa kanilang kahandaang talikuran ang landas ng hidwaan.”

(I cannot say that we took a gamble with our talks with the MILF. Gambling is a game of chance and you do not have proof of your fortune. But what we are doing now is solid proof of the MILF’s sincerity to the peace talks and their willingness to turn back from the path of conflict.)

Aquino said that while the MILF fighters are well aware that there are still threats from private armed groups, they were willing to turn over their weapons.

“Sa ginawa nilang ito, tila sinasabi nila sa atin, ‘Kapatid itong pantanggol namin sa sarili namin hindi na namin kailangan. Buong pagtitiwala na ipapaubaya sa inyo ang aming kaligtasan,’” he said.

(With what they did, they seem to say to us, ‘Brother, the firearms that we use for our defense, we no longer need. We trust you with our safety.’)

The first phase of the MILF’s decommissioning process started on Tuesday morning with the turn over of 55 high-powered rifles and 20 weapons requiring more than one operator.


READ: ‘This is not surrender,’ says MILF chief on arms decommissioning

In return, the 145 MILF members received P25,000 in cash assistance, as well as government health cards.

Aquino pointed out that the first phase of the decommissioning did not involve a few or just a dozen firearms.

Ito po ay ilan sa pinakamatataas na uri ng armas. Moderno po ang mga ito at hindi pinaglumaan; ang mga armas na ito, kayang magdulot—at talagang nakapagdulot na nga—ng matinding pagdurusa,” he said.

“Ang mga kapatid nating Moro ay nangako, at heto ang pruweba ng kanilang katapatan sa ating harapan. Kusang-loob pong inilatag ng ating mga kapatid ang kanilang armas,” Aquino explained.

(Some of these are high-powered firearms. These are modern and definitely not old. In fact, these weapons have resulted in intense suffering. Our Moro brothers made a promise and these are the proof of their loyalty. They voluntarily laid down their arms.)

Message to ‘spoilers’

While Aquino praised the MILF for its sincerity, he criticized lawmakers who continue to delay the passage of the BBL instead of improving its content.

“Kung ang pananaw mo ay pahirapan ang pagpasa ng batas, para mo na ring sinabing ipinagdamot natin ang dapat sana’y sa kanila; sinigurado nating wala silang pagkakataong umangat; ginarantiya nating di na sila bababa sa bundok,” he said.

(If your objective is to make the passage of a law more difficult, you would also withhold from them what is truly theirs; making sure that they won’t have the opportunity to progress; guaranteeing that they won’t leave the mountains.)

READ: 12 senators back need for BBL to be ‘substantially revised’

In the first place, Aquino said legitimate concerns should have been addressed through legitimate means.

“Ang tanong po natin: Kung pang-aabuso sa batas ang ugat ng problema, hindi ba nararapat lang na batas na kumikilala sa karapatan at kultura ng mga kapatid nating Muslim ang maging solusyon?” he said.

(Our question: If the abuse of the law was the root of the problem, is it not appropriate that a law recognizing the rights and culture of our Muslim brothers be the right solution?)

However, the President said his predecessors chose to fight fire with fire by sending troops to Mindanao.

He wondered if the MILF’s decision to bear arms would have still been the case if the earlier administrations addressed their concerns.

Fortunately, he said, the two sides were able to cultivate trust.

“Suklian naman natin ang pagtitiwalang ipinakita nila sa atin. Sikapin nating umabot sa puntong masasabi nating: Talagang binigay natin ang lahat ng pagkakataon upang mabago nila ang kanilang buhay at maabot ang kanilang mga pangarap,” Aquino said.

(Let us repay the trust that they have shown us. Let us strive to reach the point where we can say: We truly gave our all in ensuring that they are given the opportunity to change their lives and to reach their dreams)

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