philstar – Destroy MILF firearms – Marcos

By Christina Mendez | philstar

philstar-new-logoSen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. yesterday reiterated the need to completely destroy the firearms of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as part of the peace process.

Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on local government hearing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, made the statement on ANC even as the Senate failed to begin interpellation on the substitute bill for the BBL because of the senator’s absence in the plenary.

“Can you imagine if there are thousands of thousands of arms stored there? Is there someone guarding those weapons? There is a danger that someone might steal those guns. The best solution might be to destroy them so that it cannot go back. This stems from the very simple idea that if there are no arms, there is no war,” Marcos told ANC’s “Headstart.”

Marcos said he had included a provision on the Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR) that would empower the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) to destroy the weapons.

“We’re still coming up with the schedule. What we’ve been able to come up with in the substitute bill is to strengthen the capability of the Independent Decommissioning Body in terms of actual inspection of the arms,” he said.

The decommissioning is part of the annex on normalization of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF last year.

Last June, the MILF turned in 75 firearms and decommissioned 145 of its combatants. The turning over of the firearms was the first phase of the decommissioning program.

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said the decommissioning part of the peace process was one of the most difficult moves for the group.

Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said the decommissioning of the firearms will be staggered and its progress would depend on the delivery of the commitments between the MILF and government under the normalization annex agreement.

The next phase will occur once the BBL is ratified. Another set of firearms will be decommissioned once the Bangsamoro government and its police force are established.

The BBL is proposed to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to create a new autonomous region under the Bangsamoro government.

The ARMM was established following the 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by Nur Misuari.

Misuari vehemently opposed the separate peace deal with the MILF, saying it sidelined the 1996 peace agreement the MNLF had with the government.

On the other hand, a faction of the MNLF led by Abul Khayr Alonto urged Congress to continue efforts for the immediate passage of the BBL.

Alonto said the MNLF’s position is that the BBL could pave the way for genuine peace and sustainable development in Mindanao.

“I don’t know if we will still be around to enjoy the benefits of the peace we had been relentlessly pursuing, but we hope that its dividends will be savored by our children and the future generations. If we do not finish the work on the BBL now, we may be bestowing them not peace but the same oppressive status quo of our time,” he said.

Alonto is a founding leader of the MNLF and first vice-chairman of the original MNLF Central Committee. He was obliged upon by 35 of the 39 surviving members of the original MNLF Central Committee to head the organization in February last year.

The MILF broke away from the MNLF in 1977 and was formally established in 1984.

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