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MILF decommissions arms, combatants

SULTAN KUDARAT, Maguindanao––The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) yesterday started the first phase of the decommissioning of its firearms and combatants, a move which its leaders and the Palace said was a show of strong commitment to the Mindanao peace efforts.

MILF chairman Al Haj Murad said the Front decommissioned 75 firearms and 145 combatants as “a firm manifestation of the MILF’s commitment to peace.” He also said it signaled the transformation of their group into a political organization.

“Today, we begin the long walk to transformation, not surrender. (This is) the start of transformation of MILF from an armed organization to political organization ready to serve the Bangsamoro people,” Murad said during the decommissioning process at the gymnasium of the old provincial capitol here yesterday morning.

The Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) headed by Turkey’s former ambassador to NATO, Haydar Berk with members Jan Erik Wilhemsen from Norway, Maj. Muhammad Aiman Syazwi Bin Haji Abdul Rahim from Brunei, retired AFP Lt. Gen. Rey Ardo, Dr. Mario Aguja, Von Al-Haq and Janati Mimbantas carefully kept track of the decommissioning process as agreed upon by the talking parties.

The decommissioned weapons would be kept at a mutually agreed weapons storage area in Camp Abubakar, the former main encampment of the MILF-turned-Philippine Army Battalion headquarters situated in Barira, Maguindanao.

Thirty members of the Joint Peace and Security Teams under the supervision of the IDB’s Joint Verification and Monitoring Team would jointly secure the stored weapons.

President Aquino came and witnessed the turn over.“Decommissioning has not been an easy one. This is expected because the struggle is an integral part of our Moro identity,” Murad said. “We cannot thank President Aquino enough for his unwavering commitment in our partnership.”

Murad said the decommissioning also signaled the start of the shift to self-governance in the proposed Bansamoro territory. “This symbolic decommissioning signals the start of an old arrangement and control toward partnership of autonomy,” he said. “We proclaim our commitment to peace not by words but by action,” Murad said.

Murad said it was not a sign of weakness on the part of the MILF to decommission its firearms even as the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law is yet to be approved by Congress.

“It is not surrender,” he said in his message to his people. “This is to show the MILF is sincere in attaining peace for the Bangsamoro people.”
He also said the MILF position on the BBL is clear.

“We will accept the BBL which is in compliance with the FAB [Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro] and CAB [Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro]. This is the official position of the MILF central committee,” he said.

Aquino said he was more convinced about the MILF’s sincerity.
“We cannot say we gamble in dealing with the MILF. Gambling is game of chance and we have no guarantee we will win… This is the proof of their sincerity, they voluntarily laid down their arms… They did it although there is uncertainty on the passage of the BBL and the creation of Bangsamoro Transition Authority,” Aquino said.

He also called for the swift passage of the proposed Bangsamoro law.

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About Mindanao Goldstar Daily

Mindanao Goldstar Daily

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