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Deactivating MILF weapons and forces

/ 12:01 AM August 09, 2015

THE ANNEX on Normalization signed between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Jan. 25, 2014 is one of integral documents comprising the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. It spells out the process of normalization or the return to normal life for persons and communities affected by war.

READ: ‘This is not surrender,’ says MILF chief on arms decommissioning

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One of the activities on the way to normalization is the decommissioning of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (Biaf), the MILF’s military arm, and its weapons. The Biaf has been estimated to be 12,000-to 15,000-strong.

Tasked with overseeing the decommissioning of the Biaf and its weapons is the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB), composed of three foreign experts and four local experts nominated by the government and the MILF.

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The Joint Normalization Committee (JNC) is charged with coordinating all processes of normalization and mechanisms. The JNC must also “develop a program for reduction and management of small arms and light weapons of individuals and groups”—a task made difficult by Republic Act No. 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act of 2013 that permits Filipinos to register 15 or more firearms, defined as a “handheld or portable weapon, whether a small arm or light weapon.”

Four days after the Mamasapano incident on Jan. 25, the government and MILF peace panels approved the steps in the decommissioning process, signifying their determination to proceed with the peace process despite the tragedy.

The process starts with the ceremonial turnover of 75 high-powered weapons. The decommissioning of 30 percent of MILF weapons and combatants will take place in phase two; 35 percent in phase three; and the last 35 percent in phase four.

The turnover of 55 high-powered and 20 crew-served weapons and the demobilization of 145 combatants took place on June 16 in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. The weapons were stored in a warehouse guarded by the police, Army and representatives of the IDB’s Joint Verification and Monitoring Team.

The combatants, some of them veterans of the war in 2000, would be given health insurance and cash assistance after a registration and validation process.

Decommissioning of the bulk of the MILF’s weapons and demobilization of the MILF fighters will proceed after the first batch of weapons is inventoried and after the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law is ratified. Judy Gulane

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TAGS: Bangsamoro, Bangsamoro Basic Law, BBL, Benigno Aquino III, gun control, MILF, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Violence
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