MILF chair: Decommissioning fighters, guns not equal to surrender

Arianne Apatan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 07 2019 04:54 AM

COTABATO CITY—Hundreds of Moro fighters and their weapons are set to be decommissioned Saturday, in line with the rebel group's peace deal with the government that granted them greater autonomy in the restive south.

But Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim said the decommissioning of combatants does not mean they are surrendering their cause.

"I would like to emphasize that the decommissioning does not mean we have given up on what we used to fight for. It simply demonstrate our sincere and full commitment to fulfilling our obligations and responsibilities in the peace agreement we signed with the Philippine government," he said.

"Let me reiterate that we are not surrendering. The decommissioning is not tantamount to surrendering," added Ebrahim, who now heads the interim Bangsamoro government.

Over a thousand MILF fighters and some 900 weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, would undergo the first batch of decommissioning in Maguindanao.

The process will be overseen by an international decommissioning body (IDB), a key component of the normalization structure in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

"IDB has guidelines and protocols to ensure that the decommissioning process will be conducted efficiently with utmost impartiality, integrity and confidentiality," said IDB chair Fatih Ulusoy.

AID PACKAGES

Decommissioned combatants will receive aid packages worth some P1 million. It will include P100,000 cash, housing projects and livelihood training, among others.

"The decommissioning is our first step in achieving our goal to return our combatants to civilian but productive life," Ebrahim said.

The MILF camps will also be turned into civilians communities.

"Through this intervention, our combatants will be able to return to mainstream society. From revolutionary forces into civilian life," Ebrahim added.

In August, more than 200 MILF and BIFF fighters completed their basic military training in the Philippine Army's 602nd Infantry Brigade in Cotabato Province.

They are now part of the joint peace and security team that will help secure the decommissioning event in Maguindanao.