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Decommissioning of MILF fighters resumes

Jose Rodel Clapano, Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The third phase of the decommissioning of combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) resumed in Maguindanao on Tuesday.

A total of 5,500 combatants of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces and 2,100 high-caliber weapons were decommissioned at the old provincial capitol in Sultan Kudarat town.

The third phase of the decommissioning process will cover 14,000 former MILF fighters. About 7,200 combatants underwent the initial decommissioning phase on Nov. 8, 2021.

A total of 19,345 MILF combatants and 2,175 weapons have been decomissioned since 2015.

President Marcos lauded the resumption of the decommissioning of former MILF fighters and their weapons, saying ”it reaffirms our commitment to the peace process and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).”

“This milestone event brings us closer to securing lasting peace in Mindanao,” the President said.

The decommissioning ceremony, which was led by officials and representatives from the MILF, Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, and Independent Decommissioning Body, also featured a ceremonial awarding of assistance to decommissioned fighters.

Decommissioning is part of the normalization phase of the peace process, which seeks to turn former armed rebels into productive members of society and conflict-hit areas into progressive communities.

The normalization phase is anchored on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed by the government and MILF in 2014.

The decommissioned MILF combatants, their families and communities will receive a socioeconomic package, including sustainable livelihood programs and capacity-building training.

BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim described the event as a ”testament to the continued mutual confidence, trust and commitment of the government and the MILF to the Bangsamoro peace process.”

“Allow me to call it the transformative phase. This signifies a new and brighter beginning for our combatants as they integrate themselves into progressive mainstream communities,” he said.

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