MILF decommissioning won’t continue sans BBL
Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - February 1, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The decommissioning of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s combatants and weapons will no longer continue without the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the government said yesterday.

But Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. welcomed the statement of MILF’s chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal that the non-passage of the BBL was not the end of the world for the MILF and that they would continue to pursue a peace settlement.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said “the political-legal track centered on the passage of the BBL is at the heart” of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by the government and the MILF on March 27, 2014, concluding 17 years of peace negotiations.

The BBL is the legal translation of CAB. If enacted, the BBL will be the legal basis for the creation of an autonomous Bangsamoro region to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).  

“There is no full implementation of the CAB, specifically no further decommissioning beyond the first batch of 145 (MILF combatants), until the law is passed,” she said.

“So what we are doing is strengthening mechanisms for the peaceful transition from ARMM to the Bangsamoro, which is the core of the roadmap for the full settlement of armed conflict,” she added.

Last year, the decommissioning process began with the ceremonial turnover of 75 crew-served weapons and high-powered rifles from 145 members of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) on June 16.

The CAB stipulates that 30 percent of MILF combatants and weapons will be decommissioned upon the passage of the BBL, to be followed by another 35 percent after the plebiscite and the appointment of members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority. 

The remaining 35 percent will be decommissioned once the Bangsamoro government is established and its leaders are duly elected. 

The MILF earlier said they agreed to the decommissioning despite the delay in the passage of BBL to show its sincerity and commitment to the peace process. 

While the decommissioning and BBL passage are two different processes, Sulu Rep. Tupay Loong explained the laying down of arms and integration of MILF combatants into society were inexorably tied to the progress of the BBL in Congress.

Meanwhile, Senate President Franklin Drilon refused to treat the BBL as a “dead” bill even though Congress would not be able to approve this before adjournment of the 16th Congress on June 10.

ACIRC AUTONOMOUS REGION BANGSAMORO BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW BANGSAMORO ISLAMIC ARMED FORCES BANGSAMORO TRANSITION AUTHORITY BBL BUT PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS OPERATIONS OFFICE SECRETARY HERMINIO COLOMA JR. COMPREHENSIVE AGREEMENT MILF MOHAGHER IQBAL
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