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Former MILF guerilla-medics now BARMM health workers

John Unson - Philstar.com
Former MILF guerilla-medics now BARMM health workers
The former combatant-medics of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front were enlisted as barangay health workers in a symbolic rite in late November 2023.
Philstar.com / John Unson

COTABATO CITY — The Bangsamoro government has initially employed 1,049 former combatant-medics of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, among them women, as barangay health workers in provinces and cities under its jurisdiction.

A physician in the 80-seat regional parliament, Kadil Sinolinding, Jr. told reporters on Wednesday that the MILF medics had been provided with accreditations by the Ministry of Health-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as prelude to their enlistment this week as barangay health workers in their respective municipalities.

“Imagine the consolation we get from seeing former enemies of state, MILF guerillas, who fought military forces in previous decades, now employed as barangay health workers. This is another remarkable dividend of the Mindanao peace process, worth nurturing,” Sinolinding said.

The physician-ophthalmologist Sinolinding, who is chairperson of the health committee of the BARMM parliament, said that enlisting the former guerillas trained in emergency response and handling and transport to medical dispensaries of sick patients, or gunshot and blast victims, is parallel with the normalization thrusts of the two peace compacts between the government and the MILF.

The two accords, the 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, and, subsequently, the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, paved the way for the creation in 2019 of BARMM, replacing then the already 27-year Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that was not as politically and administratively empowered as the present Bangsamoro regional government.

The employment of MILF medics as barangay health workers is a joint program of the regional parliament, under Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, the office of Sinolinding, who is most known throughout BARMM as “doctor sa parliamento,” and the Bangsamoro region’s health ministry. Ebrahim is chairman of the MILF’s central committee.

“This is a response to a request from the MILF for its medical corps to become part of the mainstream health service community under the BARMM government. Thanks to our chief minister and our regional speaker, said Sinolinding, apparently referring to Ebrahim and their figurehead in the parliament, Speaker Pangalian Balindong.

Sinolinding said that his office and the MoH-BARMM are targeting the employment in the coming months of up to a thousand more medics from the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front.

The MNLF and Malacañang forged on Sept. 2, 1996 a peace agreement that diplomatically sealed off more than 20 years of hostility between both sides.

Senior leaders of the MILF and the MNLF are now managing the BARMM government together, either as members of the regional parliament or appointed heads of different regional agencies that have extension offices in the provinces of, Maguindanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, and in the cities of Cotabato, Marawi and Lamitan. 

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BANGSAMORO AUTONOMOUS REGION IN MUSLIM MINDANAO

BARMM

MILF

MNLF

MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT

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