December 13, 2019
CURRENT AFFAIRS

Decommissioning Process Brings Gov’t Panel to 6 MILF Camps in BARMM

 ​Highlights:
 
— Gov’t Implementing Panel visits six MILF identified camps, such as Camp Bushra, Camp Bilal, Camp Abubakar as-Siddique (Headquarters), Camp Rajamuda, Camp Omar, and Camp Bad’r.
 
— Decommissioning of MILF combatants and weapons, major component of 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
 
— First batch of 75 MILF fighters start training in preparation for integration to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) as part of the CAB.

By ANDY OROBIA and MARK NAVALES

CAMP BAD’R, Maguindanao — Decommissioning is a major part of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

No wonder the Government of the Philippines (GPH) is stepping up preparation for the decommissioning process of the combatants and weapons of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

An online version of Cambridge Dictionary defines “decommission” as “to take equipment or weapon out of use.”

In the case of the GPH-MILF final peace pact, the CAB, which too 17 years to achieve, also to be decommissioned are combatants of the erstwhile Moro separatist organization,

Over in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the GPH Implementing Panel visited six government-identified camps of the MILF, a nearly two weeks of itinerary starting on June 11. It culminated at Camp Omar, Firiz Hill, Maguindanao, on June 24.

Out of the 46 verified MILF camps, GPH recognized only six, such as Camp Abubakar As-Siddique in Matanog, Maguindanao, Camp Bilal in Lanao del Norte, Camp Bushra in Butig, Lanao del Sur, Camp Rajah Muda in Pikit, North Cotabato, Camp Omar in Firiz Hill, Maguindanao, and this camp.

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Transportation Minister Dickson Hermoso, former military officer, now of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). (Photo: Mark Navales)

“Camps’ spatial evaluation is being done to appreciate the real needs in order to be able to come up with a more comprehensive plan for each camp which is not only based on maps.” said Undersecretary and Executive Director of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Gloria Jumamil-Mercado.

The Decommissioning of some 12,000 MILF forces as part of the first batch will be on September 7. President Rodrigo R. Duterte was invited to the event.

The 1st Batch will be the 30% of the total MILF 40,000 Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) to be decommissioned in three tranches. The next two batches will be of 14,000 BIAF members each.

“The terms on the Bangsamoro has already been agreed and it is now the time to implement the agreement. This is our obligation as far as the peace process is concern,” said Jack Abas, Al-Haj, the Eastern Mindanao Front commander of MILF-BIAF and a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).

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Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) soldiers and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in a heartwarming scene at the MILF’s Camp Badr; former enemies now able to see each a be with each other in a one place without shooting each other. They are now partners in making peace work and hold war-torn Southern Philippines (Mindanao). (Photo: Mark Navales)

“Our aspiration for peace is now at the top level. No more GPH or MILF panel, it is now an implementing panel. We have established a very good coordination and cooperation with the AFP for you have not heard any skirmishes in our area. All of us want a long and lasting peace, “Abas added.

Prior to decommissioning there will be a Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPST) which will be composed of  3,000 soldiers and police plus 3,000 BIAF, which will comprise a team of seven soldiers, 8 policemen, and 15 BIAF that will serve as peacekeepers in the previously identified MILF camps.

There are already 75 BIAF that underwent basic Military training and the next batch of 250 BIAF will also be trained at Camp Lucerio, Carmen, North Cotabato, on July 27.

These series of basic military training of BIAF will prepare them to be in the  reserve unit of military which will be activated in times of foreign invasion and as first responders in times of natural calamities in their area.

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Photo-op for posterity as government and MILF leaders continue laying down the foundation of peace. Here government peace and security panel visited the 102nd Brigade, Philippine Army’s Camp Lucero, Carmen, North Cotabato, where some 3,000 MILF-Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) members will be trained to constitute the Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPST) to ensure the safe conduct of the decommissioning process. (Photo: Mark Navales)

During the training, BIAF armaments will be endorsed to the military  training officer for registration and the same firearms will be used during their training.

They will also undergo medical check up at Camp Siongco Hospital prior to said training.

“This is another kind of struggle, which will no longer be bloody. This is the product of 17 years of negotiation. We do not have any other option but to pave the way for peace,” Ministry of Transporation and Communications (BARMM-MOTC) Minister Dickson Hermoso, who is a co-chairman of the Joint Peace and Security Committee, GPH.

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Peace is spoken here, with BARMM Minister Dickson Hermoso (with microphone), former military officer, as he encourages former MILF combatants to hold on to the rope of peace and help achieve it.  (Photo: Mark Navales)

Minister Hermoso who is a retired military officer, highlighted the Moro struggle of 22 years with the Moro National  Liberation Front (MNLF) and 22 years with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) where over 120,000 were killed and thousands in the ranks of the AFP and PNP, MNLF, MILF, and civilians.

“Now let us focus on those orphans and widows of war. They have already sacrificed so much. We have to offer them a better way of life as we honor those martyrs. We cannot afford to have another war,” Hermoso conveyed.

Adviser to the President on the Peace Process, Secretary Carlito Galvez, head of OPAPP, said thru his spokesperson Wiben Mayor, “In our continued dialogue we have already resolved so many problems. Let us be open to each other so we could see each other’s concern. We at the government are here to help you out in finding solutions to our issues so we could have a common direction to attain a long and lasting peace in our country.”

The MILF-GPH peace parties, and the nation in general, are now gradually reaping the fruits of a long and difficult and challenging negotiations aimed at winning the peace in Mindanao. (AO & MN)

Featured image also by photo-journalist Mark Navales shows an MILF ex-combatant (left) and an AFP soldier in a conversation, a situation that was unthinkable a few years back. But because of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the  Bangsamoro (CAB), a major achievement of the Duterte administration, durable peace is starting to see the light.

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