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Decomissioning  of  arms, part of Bangsamoro process 

EDITORIAL

Published

e-cartoon-sep-11-2019Some 1,060 combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)  underwent  decommissioning with  some  920 weapons   in a ceremony held at  the Old Capitol in Barangay  Timuay,  Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao,  last  Saturday, September  7, attended  by President  Duterte.

The ceremony involved less than  a tenth of the total 12,000-strong MILF. And  the  920 firearms  they surrendered were a small part of the hundreds of thousands of weapons they have wielded in the decades-long  fighting and rebellion in Mindanao. There  had been an initial turnover of a handful of firearms  in 2015.

But more significant than the small  number of  decommissioned   combatants  and  weapons in last Saturday’s ceremony  was the spirit of hope that it  embodied,  the hope that at long last,  Mindanao will now begin to have peace, especially in the region of the Bangsamoro  Autonomous  Region  of  Muslim Mindanao  (BARMM).

MILF Chairman Ebrahim  Murad,  who now heads the Bangsamoro Transition Government,  said  the ceremony last  Saturday  “symbolized” that his group is “already a partner of the government  in the peace and order campaign.”   It will now move to disband the private armed groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf, who have long operated in the Mindanao.

In his speech last  Saturday,  President Duterte  assured  the  former MILF combatants that the government will support  them with economic programs to help them “reintegrate into society and productive civilian lives.”

This economic program will help but the core of the Bangsamoro  program will be  self-government  by  the Moro people. The national government will try  to interfere as least as possible, the President said, assuring them that it will be up to them how they  will use their resources. There will be “the least intervention o pang-istorbo  galing sa itaas, sa national government,” he said.

The decommissioning process will be continuing in the coming months and years. The  goal is the decommissioning of a total of 12,000 combatants  by April, 2020. This is part of the peace process that the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA)  and the national government will follow in the next three  years,

Governing the region will be the  BTA, led by Murad as  interim chief minister,  and an 80-member Transition Commission, half of whose members are named by the MILF and  the  other half by  the national government. In  the next three years, the BTA will be setting up basic government  services, including administration, infrastructures, natural resources,  electoral services, etc.

At the end of the interim period,  elections will be held for the Bangsamoro region’s officials. That will complete  the historic process of change that  began with the approval of  the Bangsamoro Law  by Congress  in  2018.

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