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MILF: No 2nd phase of arms, forces decommissioning if BBL is not approved

By: - Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQ
/ 12:52 AM June 17, 2015

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SULTAN KUDARAT, Philippines—Soon after the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) handed over 75 weapons to the government on Tuesday, MILF chief Murad Ebrahim said any further surrender by the Front of its firearms would not continue without a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) taking effect.

“The second phase will be tied up to the BBL because that’s what is in the (peace) agreement,” Murad told reporters after the ceremonial decommissioning of 75 MILF firearms and the decision of 145 MILF combatants to return to normal life.

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MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said in a separate interview that the ceremonial decommissioning of the weapons was an “obligation” on the part of the MILF.

“It’s in the signed document—that the MILF has to undertake the decommissioning process. That day has come,” Iqbal said.

By signed document Iqbal was referring to the peace agreement called the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by the government and the MILF in March last year.

Under the CAB, the normalization component takes place alongside the political component, which is embodied in the BBL. The law will establish the Bangsamoro autonomous region.

The so-called decommissioning of MILF forces—meaning firearms and combatants—is part of the normalization component, addressing the security aspect of the rebels’ return to the normal life of a citizen of the Republic.

The normalization component also includes socio-development programs, confidence-building measures, such as the transformation of camps to ordinary communities and amnesty, and the creation of a reconciliation committee.

Under the peace agreement, the second phase of the decommissioning process will involve 30 percent of the MILF forces, meaning firearms and combatants.

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REBEL ARMS  Guns of different types are laid out on the table after they were “decommissioned” by the MILF in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao province. Witnessing the handover are President Aquino, MILF chair Murad Ebrahim, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles.  GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

REBEL ARMS Guns of different types are laid out on the table after they were “decommissioned” by the MILF in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao province. Witnessing the handover are President Aquino, MILF chair Murad Ebrahim, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

As agreed upon by both parties, the second phase will take place upon the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which will create a new Bangsamoro autonomous region. This would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

3rd, 4th phases

The third phase will involve decommissioning 65 percent of MILF forces. According to the CAB, this should take place upon the establishment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).

The fourth and last phase will have 100 percent of the MILF forces decommissioned. Based on the CAB, this would take place upon the election of Bangsamoro officials of the new Bangsamoro autonomous region.

Not surrender

On allegations that the 75 firearms decommissioned on Tuesday were unserviceable weapons, Murad said these were all inspected and verified by members of the International Decommissioning Body (IDB).

“The IDB saw that all are functioning. These were all taken directly from the ground,” Murad said.

Iqbal said the MILF leadership held intense dialogues with their combatants, which included explaining that decommissioning does not mean “surrender” but “moving forward.”

“This is not a loss on the part of the MILF. We gain something out of it. It is showing that the MILF is an entity that complies with its obligations no matter how hard it is because it is an obligation,” Iqbal said.

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Basic Law, BBL, decommissioning, Firearms, MILF, Murad Ebrahim, peace process
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