AFP to assist in decommissioning process for 40-K MILF combatants
CAMP AGUINALDO – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) forged an agreement Thursday to formalize their partnership in implementing the decommissioning process for 40,000 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants and their weapons in the next three years.
At the signing ceremony of the memorandum of agreement, AFP Chief of Staff General Benjamin Madrigal Jr. underscored the importance of the collaboration between OPAPP and the AFP in pushing forward the Bangsamoro peace process.
“We have long dreamed for peace in the Bangsamoro region,” Madrigal said, emphasizing that maintaining “mutual trust” between the government and the MILF is crucial in the Normalization process.
“One thing that we should further develop is the willingness to work together. This can only happen with the start of the healing process, and confidence building between Armed Forces (of the Philippines) and the MILF,” he said.
“And the process of Normalization will trigger our dream of a peaceful and developed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,”
From warriors to peacekeepers
Under the MOA, the AFP will provide basic military training to 3,000 MILF-Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) fighters in order to prepare them as members of the composite Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPST).
The 6,000-strong JPSTs will be composed of 3,000 MILF-BIAF members, 1,600 policemen and 1,400 soldiers. Currently, 220 MILF-BIAF combatants are undergoing training in Camp Lucero, in Carmen, North Cotabato.
JPSTs will be responsible for securing areas that will undergo the Normalization process, particularly the six-government acknowledged MILF camps which will be transformed into peaceful, progressive and resilient communities.
According to Madrigal, the training course for MILF members aims to achieve “same views towards security, to develop same parameters, and synchronization of the movement” in the maintenance of peace and order in Bangsamoro communities.
Under the MOA, the AFP will also be present in securing the actual decommissioning of MILF combatants and their weapons, and develop a program for small arms and light weapons management.
Normalization Track gains traction
Starting this year, 30% or 12,000 former MILF combatants will undergo decommissioning under the Normalization Track of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is expected to witness the public launch of the decommissioning process on September 7 in the municipality of Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.
Earlier this year, the President signed the Executive Order No. 79 or “Implementing the Annex on Normalization under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” which aligned the efforts of concerned government agencies in the implementation of the Normalization process.
The Normalization Track’s four components
include security, socio-economic, confidence-building measures, and transitional justice and reconciliation.
AFP: Indispensable partner in peacebuilding
For his part, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. lauded the AFP for its major role in laying the foundations of sustainable peace in the Bangsamoro.
“Over the years, the exceptional sense of professionalism, dedication and commitment of the AFP has been instrumental in sustaining the gains and pushing forward the Bangsamoro peace process,” Galvez said.
“The AFP has helped create a conducive environment where sustainable peace and genuine development can flourish in communities,” he added.
Galvez noted that this was made possible largely
due to the efforts of the Joint Ceasefire Mechanisms that were established by the GPH-MILF Peace Implementing Panels.
These mechanisms include the Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities, Ad Hoc Joint Action Group and the International Monitoring Team.
Composed of AFP, Philippine National Police and MILF members, these bodies are tasked to help create a conducive atmosphere that will pave the way for the implementation of the CAB and its annexes.