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3,000 ex-MILF rebels under training to help secure BARMM

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By Genalyn Kabiling

The government is aiming to complete the training of 3,000 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebel returnees by next year so they can help secure the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez Jr. said around 200 MILF members started training this month to become members of the Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPSTs).

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez Jr. (Screenshot / RTVM / PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez Jr. (Screenshot / RTVM / PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“We are training more than 200 JPSTs or Joint Peace and Security Teams. They will operate with the police and military in order to crush criminality in their areas,” he said in Filipino during a Palace press briefing.

“They will work hand-in-hand with our PNP (Philippine National Police) and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) to suppress and neutralize terrorism, criminality and other crimes,” he added.

Galvez said the training of the next batch of MILF members will commence in the coming months. The trainees will be given allowance during their 26-day basic military training.

“The budget has already been given to us so we will finish that by 2020,” he said.

He said the MILF contingent will be part of the 6,000-strong JPSTs that will function as peacekeeping forces in the region. The other half of the security force will be composed of 1,600 policemen and 1,400 soldiers.

Meantime, the decommissioning process of MILF forces will begin next month under the peace agreement forged with the government.

According to Galvez, around 1,206 MILF combatants and 920 weapons will be decommissioned in a ceremony on September 7 as part of the normalization process of the peace accord. President Duterte is expected to attend the event.

He said the normalization program aims to transform former combatants into productive members of society and conflict-affected areas into peaceful and progressive communities.

“The era of armed hostilities is now gone. We are now ushering a new age of genuine and sustainable peace throughout Mindanao,” he added.

Of the 40,000 MILF combatants, Galvez said around 12,000 MILF combatants, and 3,000 will be decommissioned this year until March 2020.

Under the peace agreement, 30 percent of the MILF combatants and weapons would be decommissioned after the passage of the Bangsamoro law.

Another 35 percent of the troops and arms were commissioned after the plebiscite and the appointment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority. The decommissioning of the final 35 percent will happen following the establishment of the Bangsamoro government.

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