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Decommissioning of 12,000 MILF fighters starts next month

THE decommissioning of 12,000 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) armed wing will be from September 2019 to March 2020, with around 1,200 combatants and 900 weapons decommissioned on Sept. 7 in ceremonies that will be attended by President Duterte, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez said.

Galvez told the conference on “Walking and Working Together for Healing and Reconciliation” at the Ateneo de Davao University Wednesday that the 12,000 represents 30 percent of the 40,000 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (Biaf) that will be decommissioned under Phase 2 of the four-phase process.

The Sept. 7 decommissioning will be in the same venue where Phase 1 was held four years ago, at the gymnasium of the old provincial capitol in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao,

Under Phase 1, 20 crew-served weapons and 55 high-powered firearms were turned over to the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) on June 16, 2015 and 145 Biaf members were also decommissioned that day in ceremonies witnessed by then President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

Under Phase 1, 20 crew-served weapons and 55 high-powered firearms were turned over to the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) on June 16, 2015 and 145 combatants or members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the MILF’s armed wing, were also decommissioned that day.

The Annex on Normalization of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace agreement between government and the MILF signed in March 2014,  provides under Phase 2 that 30% of the forces and weapons would be decommissioned when the Bangsamoro law is ratified.

The Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or Republic Act 11054 was ratified during a plebiscite on Jan. 21 this year.

The Commission on Elections on Jan. 25, 2019 proclaimed RA 11054 ratified by majority of the people in the proposed core territory of the new autonomous political entity touted to be the “last chance” for peace in the decades old struggle of the Bangsamoro people to establish a government of the Moro, by the Moro and for the Moro, inclusive of the non-Moro settlers and Indigenous Peoples as provided by the law.

Galvez  said the decommissioning of the 12,000, representing 30 percent of the 40,000 Biaf members, would be until March 2020.

He said there will be eight decommissioning sites “and we expect to finish (processing) our 12,000 combatants from September (2019) to March (2020).”

“Our benchmark is that we can decommission more or less 200 per day per site in series, not simultaneous,” he added..

On Sept. 7, a total of 1,060 Biaf members and 920 firearms will be decommissioned.  Also to be formally decommissioned are 225 Biaf members who are undergoing training as members of the Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPST).

Galvez told the conference that the 225 will be “makakasama ng police, ng armed forces sa paghanap ng terrorists at the same time sila po security during decommissioning.”

 The trainees’ basic military training started Aug. 1 and will end Aug. 26.

Already listed for decommissioning on Sept. 7 are 1,060 Biaf members plus 225 already training under the JPST or 1,285, and 920 firearms.

Galvez told the conference that decommissioned combatants and their families “will be assisted in making the transition to becoming peaceful and productive civilians” and the rifles they have been carrying for years would be replaced by ploughshares, fishnets and other implements to earn sustainable incomes. (Carolyn O. Arguillas,  Mindanews)

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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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