SIMUAY, SULTAN KUDARAT—The Bangsamoro Government, through the leadership of Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, once again affirmed its full support to the decommissioning of former combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
During the public launch of the Resumption of Phase 3 MILF Decommissioning held today, Sept. 27, at the Old Maguindanao Provincial Capitol in Sultan Kudarat, Ebrahim described the event as “a testament to the mutual confidence, trust, and commitment of the Government of the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front to the Bangsamoro Peace Process”.
“The Bangsamoro Government hereby expresses its support to the third phase of the decommissioning, as we demonstrate continued pursuit of long-lasting peace,” he said.
Ebrahim, who is also the current Chairman of the MILF, emphasized that while both parties and other stakeholders call it ‘The Third Phase” of the decommissioning process, he coined it as ‘the transformative phase’.
“This signifies a new and brighter beginning of our combatants as they integrate themselves into the progressive mainstream society,” Ebrahim explained.
The event is part of the implementation the Executive Order No. 79 or the Annex on Normalization signed by former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on April 24, 2019. The EO outlines four main aspects of the peace mechanism which included security, socio-economic development, confidence building-measures, and transitional justice and reconciliation.
Under the security and socio-economic development aspects, the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) and its partners facilitate the return of 40,000 members of MILF to the fold of law. The decommissioning program helped former combatants transformed into peaceful and productive citizens through the provision of transitory cash assistance and livelihood programs.
According to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU), 5,500 combatants were targeted to be decommissioned this year.
IDB Chairman Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Idem Akay lauded the mutual cooperation between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF.
“On this occasion, we commend the GPH and the MILF for the unwavering dedication and commitment to the peace process,” the foreign diplomat said.
Special Assistant to the President Antonio Ernesto Lagdameo Jr., who is the event’s Guest of Honor, missed to attend the program as he was assisting the President in the wake of Typhoon Karding that devastated parts of Luzon.
In his message delivered by Undersecretary Atty. Joahna Paula Domingo, Lagdameo expressed his excitement for the unfolding development in the region.
“I see exciting years ahead and I am glad together with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., to see this happen under his administration,” the message read.
It could be remembered that during the inaugural session of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, the President himself graced the occasion where he ensured the BARMM government his full support.
MILF Implementing Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal acknowledged and thanked the President’s incessant support to the Bangsamoro peace process.
“We are humbled by the fact that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., highlighted the Bangsamoro peace process in his recent appearance at the United Nations General Assembly in New York,” said Iqbal.
“It is only proper that as a gesture of good will, the MILF graciously facilitates this decommissioning activity today,” he added.
Each of the decommissioned combatants will receive transitional cash assistance, core shelters, and livelihood programs.
Other dignitaries to the event included OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr, GPH Implementing Peace Panel Chair Undersecretary David Diciano, a number of BTA parliament memebrs, key government officials, and development partners. (Abdullah Matucan/BIO)