12,000 MILF fighters give up arms under Bangsamoro 'normalization': Nograles

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 18 2019 05:31 PM

MANILA - A total of 12,000 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members have laid down their arms for reintegration into civilian communities, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.

The figure represents a third of the weapons of the country's largest Muslim rebel group, which authorities say ranges from 30,000 to 40,000.

"The President has directed all of us to focus on and step up normalization programs because he knows the success of these efforts is the key to establishing lasting peace in Mindanao,” Nograles said.

MILF fighters who have surrendered their firearms will receive livelihood and housing assistance, scholarships, and employment opportunities, among others, Nograles said.

The Cabinet official explained that the government aims to have 35 percent more of MILF fighters commissioned by next year and the remainder by 2022.

"All the different government agencies involved in these efforts believe we can meet these timelines,” he said.

In April this year, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the implementation of the final component of a peace accord government signed with Muslim rebels in 2014, where they agreed to lay down their arms and get reintegrated into civilian communities.

Executive Order No. 79, signed on April 24, 2019, set the process of "normalization" following the creation of an expanded Bangsamoro region in Mindanao. 

The peace agreement was forged by the MILF in 2014 with then-President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III. It was implemented in full under incumbent Duterte.