Aquino guest of honor at MILF decommissioning rites

Aquino guest of honor at MILF decommissioning rites
Philippine President Benigno Aquino's said the Philippines was keen to contribute to regional security, particularly through agreements such as Edca.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is scheduled to turn over at least 75 high-powered firearms to the government on Tuesday in a symbolic gesture of its commitment to return to the fold of the law.

The ceremonial turnover, which will have President Aquino as guest of honour, will take place in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, where at least 145 Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) fighters are also set to be decommissioned.

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., speaking during the weekly "Pilipinas, Pilipinas" public affairs radio programme, said the President "will witness the first phase of the decommissioning process, which is considered strong proof of the MILF's support and commitment to the peace process aimed at bringing lasting peace and progress to areas covered by the Bangsamoro."

"Under the decommissioning process, the BIAF fighters will be made to undergo a listing and assessment process, to be followed by the giving of cash assistance and PhilHealth cards, among other benefits," Coloma said.

Coloma, also head of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, said the decommissioned fighters are also entitled to "medium- to long-term aid under the supervision of the state Task Force on Decommissioned Combatants and Communities."

"The process has three stages: Security, socioeconomic development, and transitional justice and reconciliation," he said, stressing that the process aims to "give ex-MILF members the opportunity to engage in livelihood activities and live a peaceful life away from violence."

Under the peace accord, the MILF agrees to end its armed struggle for a separate state in Mindanao in exchange for broader autonomy. The President has said that he would work hard to convince Congress that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) should be passed to end the decades-long conflict in Muslim Mindanao.

The Senate and the House of Representative missed the June 11 deadline for the passage of the BBL, with some lawmakers questioning its constitutionality.

Last weekend, the Palace asserted that the proposed BBL is meant to "correct the mistakes of the past."

Aquino had called the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) a "failed experiment," as he announced in October 2012 that the government and the MILF had agreed to a framework for a peace agreement after 17 years of negotiations.

The two parties signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in March 2014, after which they worked on the BBL, which would establish a Bangsamoro autonomous region to replace the ARMM.

 

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