MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the implementation of the final component of a peace accord with Muslim rebels, wherein they will lay down their arms and get reintegrated into civilian communities, according to an executive order made public on Tuesday.
The "normalization" process will commence after a plebiscite in February approved the creation of an expanded Bangsamoro Region. Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Murad Ebrahim is current chief minister.
Normalization will "enable the communities to achieve their desired quality of life through the pursuit of sustainable livelihood and political participation within a peaceful and deliberative society," according to Executive Order 79, signed last April 24.
The MILF, the country's largest Muslim rebel group, forged a peace agreement in 2014 with then President Benigno Aquino. The accord was implemented in full under incumbent Rodrigo Duterte.
Under EO 79, an inter-Cabinet Cluster Mechanism on normalization, headed by representatives from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, was tasked to ensure the timely, appropriate and efficient delivery of the program.
MILF forces and weapons will be validated and subjected to a decommissioning process by an independent body composed of 3 foreign experts and 4 local experts.
Private armed groups in the Bangsamoro region should also be disbanded, Duterte said in the order.
The normalization program shall be implemented for the combatant and non-combatant elements of the MILF, families of the decommissioned combatants, and other vulnerable individuals and sectors residing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Duterte, the first Philippine president from Mindanao, is banking on wider autonomy to heal the "historical injustices" suffered by the Moros and to address violent extremism in southern Philippines.
Read the full executive order here: