Decommissioning of MILF combatants, weapons begins; Duterte to witness rites

THE REGION
September 7, 2019

SHARE

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 07 September) – Seven months after the organic law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) was ratified in a plebiscite, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will turn over at least 920 high-powered firearms to the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) on Saturday afternoon.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad told a media forum on Friday that along with the firearms, at least 1,060 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, the military wing of the MILF, will also be decommissioned in a ceremony that will be attended by President Rodrigo Duterte at the gymnasium of the old provincial capitol in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao.

Under the four-phase Annex on Normalization of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by government and the MILF in 2014, Phase 2 which is “from the completion of the validation of MILF forces up to the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law” involves, among other components, the decommissioning of 30% of the MILF combatants and weapons. 
The MILF claims it has 40,000 combatants and 7,000 MILF-owned weapons. Thirty per cent of that under Phase 2 is 12,000 combatants and 2,100 weapons to processed in eight decommissioning sites between September 7 and March or April next year.

Murad said the 920 firearms that would be decommissioned Saturday will include 20 heavy weapons and seven shoulder-fired RPG 7 launchers.

“We want to show our sincerity and full commitment to the peace agreement we signed with the Philippine government,” Murad said.

Turkish Ambassador Fatih Ulusoy, chair of the IDB, will receive the firearms at the gym in the old provincial capitol in Simuay, the same venue of the ceremonial turnover of 20 crew-served weapons and 55 high-powered firearms to the IDB, as well as the decommissioning of 145 combatants in June 2015 in rites also attended by the President, then Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

The IDB will then seal and store the firearms in container vans and placed in Secured Areas Storage Area (SASA) in Camp Abubakar, the MILF’s main camp taken by the government during the Estrada administration’s “all-out war” against the MILF in 2000.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez said the decommissioning of MILF combatants and firearms will be done in eight other areas in Mindanao until March or April next year.

Galvez said the next areas targeted for decommissioning are the MILF camps Omar in Matanog, Maguindanao and Rajahmuda in Pikit, North Cotabato.

“This will be followed in MILF Camp Bilal in Lanao del Norte; Camp Bushra in Butig town, Lanao del Sur; Camp Salman in Zamboanga del Norte and Basilan,” Galvez said.

Galvez said each of the MILF combatants who would be decommissioned would receive a package worth a million pesos from the government, consisting of 100,000 cash, scholarships and other socio-economic benefits for him, his family and his community.

He said the package would help the combatants become “peaceful and productive civilians.”

Murad said the MILF is committed to decommission 40,000 combatants and 7,000 firearms. He said the 7,000 firearms are owned by the MILF while other MILF fighters own the rest of the guns.

“We estimated that 30 percent of our fighters own a firearm or two,” he said.

Murad said many of these fighters are adopting a “wait and see” attitude on the implementation of the peace process and the changes it would bring to them and their communities.  (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)


RELATED ARTICLES

LEAVE A REPLY

Subscribe Now!

Receive email updates from Mindanao Daily News.