Decommissioning of MILF fighters resumes

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2022 09:01 PM

Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity
About 14,000 combatants of the MILF are expected to be decommissioned by the end of Phase 3, which resumed on Sept. 27, 2022. Courtesy: Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity/Twitter

MANILA — More combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Tuesday went through the decommissioning process as part of the group's peace agreement with the Philippine government, according to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity.

The third phase of the decommissioning process resumed at the Old Maguindanao Provincial Capitol in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, aiming to cover up to 14,000 combatants, the OPAPRU said in a statement.

The decommissioning process forms part of the normalization phase in the peace process, whereby combatants become productive civilian members of society, while the MILF's six major and other satellite camps will be converted into socio-economic communities and key sources of livelihood.

The government and the MILF forged their peace accord in 2014, resulting in the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and fostering hopes for an end to the cycle of violence in the country’s south.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is considered to adequately address the historical and socio-political roots of the decades-long Muslim insurgency in the Philippines.

According to the OPAPRU, the third phase of the decommissioning started on Nov. 8, 2021, during which 7,200 completed the process. With the resumption of the same phase now, at least 5,500 combatants are targeted to be decommissioned until the end of the year. 

The OPAPRU said a cash assistance of P100,000 is awarded to each of the decommissioned combatants as part of the socioeconomic program for them.

Up to 19,345 MILF combatants have undergone the decommissioning process since it started in 2015. More than 2,000 weapons have also been put beyond use.

Under the first phase, 145 members of the MILF-Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) and 75 of their weapons were decommissioned.

Phase 2 was held in 2019, covering 12,000 MILF-BIAF members and 2,100 of their weapons.

The decommissioning process is being handled by the IDB, which was created by the negotiating panels of the two parties.

The IDB is composed of representatives from the Governments of Turkey, Norway, Kingdom of Brunei and local experts nominated by the panels.

Tuesday's event was attended by IDB Chairman and Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Idem Akay, Government Implementing Panel Chair David Diciano, MILF Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal, Presidential Peace Advisor Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., and BARMM Chief Minister Al Has Ahod Ebrahim.

"The IDB ensures that the decommissioning process will be dealt with utmost professionalism, integrity and confidentiality. We have established necessary methodologies to ensure that our work will be done effectively and efficiently,” Akay said.

"We are working closely with the different normalization mechanisms to make this happen, and together, we hope that this will open the doors for transition and new life for combatants,” he added.

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