Teaming up new band of brothers for peace in Bangsamoro land

MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. (right) showcased to President Rodrigro Duterte (center) on Saturday September 7, 2019, the 920 high-powered firearms including 60mm and 81mm mortars; 7 crew-mounted M2 Browning caliber 50 machineguns; and 500 RPG rocket launchers which were voluntarily turned over 1,060 former MILF combatants to the International Decommissioning Body. (Photo by Mark Navales / Mindanao Post)

SULTAN KUDARAT (September 10) — After almost five decades of fighting, a new band of brothers has been formed through the Joint Peace and Security Team (JPST) who are now considered as the security team as the decommissioning process starts in this town on 7 Sept. 2019.

The JPST is a combined force of PNP, AFP and Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (BIAF-MILF).  Out of 156 newly graduates from former MILF combatants who have underwent basic military training, they will be part of 5 teams of 75 members each.

The JPST have their first security detail at the old capitol compound in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat for the first batch of decommissioning process of 1,060 former MILF combatants.

The JPST and the decommissioning process are part of the normalization mechanism agreed by both MILF and the government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel authored by former military officer and now BARMM Minister of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), Dickson P. Hermoso and MILF spokesperson Von Al Haq. Both of them are co-chair of Joint Peace and Security Committee (JPSC) GPH-MILF respectively.

“The Joint Peace and Security Committee (JSPC) coordinate with two parties command structures on security arrangements relevant to its functions. We also develop policies and operational guidelines for the effective conduct of the decommissioning process” said Minister Hermoso with the concurrence of MOTC-BARMM Deputy Minister Al Haq.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim who is the Interim Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao led his former combatants in the ceremonial turnover of the armaments with special token to President Rodrigo R. Duterte as a symbol of President’s strong political will to implement the peace agreement signed in 2014.

“I would like to emphasize that we have not given up what we used to fight for. It is simply to demonstrate our full commitment to fulfilling our obligations and responsibility in the peace agreement we signed with the government.” Ibrahim said.

As part of the peace process which was ratified into Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), 1,060 former MILF combatants voluntarily turned over 920 high-powered firearms including 60mm and 81mm mortars; 7 crew-mounted M2 Browning caliber 50 machineguns; and 500 RPG rocket launchers to the International Decommissioning Body (IDB).

“Decommissioning is the first step in achieving our goal to return our combatants to civilian but productive life.” Murad added.

President Duterte underscored the significance of the decommissioning process in the national government’s overall peace-building efforts in Mindanao.

“Do not be sad that your turned over your arms to the government because you are now the government. The government is yours, we have given it to you” President Duterte sincerely said as he addressed the former MILF combatants in Filipino language.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. emphasizes the crucial role of President Duterte in building on and sustaining the gains of peace in Mindanao, particularly for shepherding the Bangsamoro peace process.

“The relative peace we are experiencing now in Mindanao is the product of the President’s strong political will,” Galvez said

Out of 1,060 decommissioned MILF combatants, there are 106 who were members the Bangsamoro Islamic Women Auxiliary Brigade (BIWAB) of the BIAF-MILF.

As promised the government handed 100,000 cash to each decommissioned former MILF combatant intended for the scholarships and other socio-economic benefits for their family and community. (Andy Orobia / Mindanao Post)

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