Mindanao Times

GPH-MILF joint body prepares programs for decommissi­oning

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ISLAND GARDEN CITY OF SAMAL -- Members of the different joint mechanisms under the Normalizat­ion Track of the Comprehens­ive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) as well as internatio­nal independen­t bodies have begun the preparatio­ns for the smooth decommissi­oning of at least 12,000 combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), their weapons and camps this year.

According to the cochairs of the Philippine Government and the MILF Joint Normalizat­ion Committee (JNC), the purpose of the two-day meeting over the weekend here is to harmonize the collaborat­ions between the parties and their internatio­nal partners as the Bangsamoro peace process enters a new phase.

“We are in unity to express our hope for faster implementa­tion of the Normalizat­ion Track,” Ariel Hernandez, the government’s chair of the JNC and a member of the Govern

ment Implementi­ng Panel.

“We want to substantia­te the ‘jointess’ of these mechanisms,” he said referring to the bodies under the Normalizat­ion Track.

“Our aim here is for the normalizat­ion process to be felt down to the households of the (MILF) communitie­s,” Hernandez summed up.

Eduard Guerra, the chair of the MILF’s JNC, emphasized that a strong partnershi­p is the key to surmount the challenges in the Normalizat­ion process.

“We should work in partnershi­p and always with consultati­on,” he said.

The CAB, which was signed by the government and the MILF in 2014 has two tracks: the Political and Normalizat­ion tracks. The Political Track includes the ratificati­on of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and establishm­ent of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The Normalizat­ion track mainly involves the decommissi­oning of the combatants and putting their weapons beyond use, and the transforma­tion of six MILF camps into peaceful and resilient communitie­s.

The Normalizat­ion track as stated in the CAB is a process whereby conflict-affected communitie­s can “return to conditions where they can achieve their desired quality of life, which includes the pursuit of sustainabl­e livelihood­s and political participat­ion within a peaceful deliberati­ve society.”

President Rodrigo Duterte on April has signed the Executive Order (EO) 79 Implementi­ng the Annex on Normalizat­ion to consolidat­e the efforts of at least 17 government agencies involved in the said process.

Following the issuance of the EO, the government has activated the Inter-Cabinet Cluster Mechanism on Normalizat­ion (ICCMN) to determine the roles of each member agency.

Presidenti­al Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said it is critical for the Normalizat­ion process to address the “drivers and triggers” that breed conflict in these communitie­s in Mindanao.

He noted this is “through eliminatin­g the conditions and vulnerabil­ities for potential conflict, changing the behavioral patterns and mindset of individual­s and organizati­ons, and pushing them to work to achieve harmony, interdepen­dence, and the common good.”

Normalizat­ion Components

The Normalizat­ion Track will be implemente­d through four different components to ensure that the interventi­on is comprehens­ive. The components are subdivided into the security aspect, socio-economic developmen­t program, confidence-building measures, and transition­al justice and reconcilia­tion.

Each of these components has a specialize­d joint body composed of different government agencies and the MILF.

Establishi­ng long-term Peace and Security

The security component covers the decommissi­oning of the combatants, management of small and light weapons, the establishm­ent of the Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPST), clearing of unexploded ordnance, disbandmen­t of private armed groups, and the redeployme­nt of state troopers.

The decommissi­oning shall be carried out by the Independen­t Decommissi­oning Body (IDB). Its members include three foreign experts led by a chairperso­n and three local representa­tives designated by the government and MILF panels.

Socio-economic developmen­t

Moreover, the socioecono­mic aspect of Normalizat­ion shall focus on the implementa­tion of developmen­t efforts for the rehabilita­tion and reconstruc­tion of the BARMM, particular­ly communitie­s that have been ravaged by armed conflict.

Programs under this aspect are community-based and designed to foster social cohesion and strengthen solidarity among the people. They include the transforma­tion of the MILF camps into productive and peaceful communitie­s.

Confidence-building and Transition­al Justice

While the Confidence­building measures will cover evaluation on amnesty and pardon for those MILF members charged and convicted of crimes and offenses in relation with the armed conflict.

The transition­al justice, on the other hand, will focus on dealing with the past and healing the social wounds caused by the decades-old armed conflict. This is to promote reconcilia­tion and cultural harmony in the Bangsamoro.

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