BARMM governors urge Marcos Cabinet to tackle MILF”s full decommissioning

Five governors from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) are urging Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. to raise the issue of full decommissioning of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in one of the Cabinet meetings.

The BARMM Governors Caucus (BGC) warned of “potential unrest” in the region, especially with the upcoming October 30 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE), should the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government fail to properly manage the process.

“Tinatawag natin ang pansin sa pangunguna ni DND Secretary Teodoro at DILG Secretary Abalos na dalhin sa attention ng Cabinet, na mapag-usapan sa cabinet meeting maski kahit ilang minuto lang, makarating sa mahal na Presidente, ang problema sa peace and order na hindi epektibo ang decommissioning. I-review sana at revisit ang decommissioning process para mabigyan ng solusyon ang problemang kinakaharap nito,” said BGC spokesperson and Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr.

According to Adiong, the extension of decommissioning is a significant issue for the MILF.

“Of course, for the MILF, it is clear that the decommissioning of their weapons and base command should be completed before the 2022 elections. But because of the extension, the election season is extended, and now the decommissioning should be completed before the 2025 election,” he said.

He emphasized that that the MILF’s arms and base command should be turned over to the national government, as it is not possible to have an election in 2025 with armed groups on the ground.

“This means that the armed members of the MILF should become law-abiding citizens. Their firearms should be turned over to an independent decommissioning body so they won’t be used, and the MILF camps and base commands should be dismantled. That’s what will facilitate the decommissioning. The five governors also want to help with this decommissioning,” he added.

Under the peace deal with the government, 40,000 MILF combatants are required to undergo decommissioning.

The BGC is composed of Adiong, Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu of Maguindanao del Sur, Abdusakur M. Tan of Sulu, Hadjiman S. Hataman-Salliman of Basilan, and Yshmael “Mang” I. Sali of Tawi-Tawi.

In September 2022, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) said the decommissioning of the MILF would be completed by 2024.

Over 15,000 MILF combatants will be decommissioned in 2023 and 2024.

In November last year, Basilan Representative Mujiv Hataman also urged the government to prioritize the decommissioning of armed combatants. — DVM, GMA Integrated News

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