Weapons turned over by MILF authentic, says decommissioning body

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 11 2015 07:13 PM | Updated as of Jul 12 2015 10:24 AM

COTABATO CITY -- The initial set of weapons turned over by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last month in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao are authentic and in a secure location, the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) body said Saturday.

In a statement, IDB member retired Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Lieutenant General Rey Ardo denied allegations that there were homemade weapons included among those turned over by the MILF.

Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. earlier alleged that 28 of the decommissioned MILF weapons contained ''paltiks'' or homemade weapons.

He also alleged that the rebel group was still able to manufacture armaments through its weapons factory.

According to Ardo, the MILF submitted to the IDB a list of the firearms to be turned over prior to the ceremonial decommissioning. The seven-member decommissioning body also inspected the weapons prior to the ceremony.

''Based on my experience and competency as a retired general of the AFP, these are the original weapons used by the MILF in their fight with the government," Ardo said.

He also noted that the weapons "were clearly not manufactured for the sake of the ceremonial decommissioning."

Ardo added the weapons have been placed in secure storage facilities.

"Under the watch of the IDB, the decommissioned weapons of the MILF have been placed in secure storage facilities and will remain there until they are finally put beyond use," said Ardo.

The official added that the weapons are kept safe to prevent them from falling into the hands of lawless elements, or from being sold back in the "black market."

Meanwhile, Government of the Philippines (GPH) Chief Peace Negotiator Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer appealed to the media to undertake their own investigation or at least interview other competent sources before reporting on mere statements.

The chief peace negotiator, moreover, suggested that those with proof regarding claims that the MILF are manufacturing firearms and weaponry should immediately coordinate with the security sector or the government ceasefire committee.

"Tungkol po sa alegasyon na ang MILF ay gumagawa ng armas, ayaw din po namin ng ganito kaya matagal na naming sinasabi na ibigay po natin sa ating AFP at PNP o sa ating ceasefire committee ang anumang impormasyon ukol sa sinasabi na weapons factory upang ito po ay maaksyunan (With regard the allegation that the MILF is manufacturing arms, we also do not want this to happen, so those with information should report to the AFP and the PNP or ceasefire committee so that we can take action)," said Ferrer.

The decommissioning process is guided by the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace accord signed by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF in March 2014. The CAB stipulates that the MILF weaponry will be put beyond use while the combatants will transition to civilian lives in a gradual and phased process.