Mindanao Times

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,”

Madrigal added.

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines