British Embassy hails initial decommissioning of MILF weapons, fighters

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MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/16 June) — The British Embassy in Manila welcomed the first phase of decommissioning of weapons and fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“The decommissioning of 50 high-powered and 25 crew-mounted weapons, and transition to civilian life of 145 Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, is a significant and welcome step in the peace process,” Charge d’ Affaires Trevor Lewis said in a statement Tuesday.

The initial decommissioning took place in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao Tuesday and was witnessed by President Aquino himself.

An Independent Decommissioning Body member inspects the tag of one of the firearms belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front during a ceremonial turn-over on June 16, 2015 at the old Maguindanao provincial capitol in Sultan Kudarat. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
An Independent Decommissioning Body member inspects the tag of one of the firearms belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front during a ceremonial turn-over on June 16, 2015 at the old Maguindanao provincial capitol in Sultan Kudarat. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

The move came amid uncertainties on the fate of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in Congress.

The BBL will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao after its ratification through a plebiscite.

But some senators viewed the proposed measure as unconstitutional. Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said they would file substitute bills.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives adjourned their session last week without putting the BBL to a vote.

The MILF has declared it would not accept a BBL that is inconsistent with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

“With legislation still pending in Congress, this event underlines the continued commitment of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to pursue its objectives through political rather than violent means. As with any peace process, the process of normalization is linked to political milestones, the next of which will be the passage of legislation to make the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro a reality,” Lewis said.

“We commend the government of the Philippines led by President Aquino for its continued significant effort to bring peace and development to the peoples of Bangsamoro for the long term benefit of the Philippines as a whole,” he added.

Government Peace Panel chair Miriam Coronel Ferrer inspects decommissioned firearms of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front during a ceremony at the old Maguindanao provincial capitol in Sultan Kudarat town on June 16, 2015.  Seventy five firearms are being turned over to the Independent Decommissioning Body by the MILF. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
Government Peace Panel chair Miriam Coronel Ferrer inspects decommissioned firearms of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front during a ceremony at the old Maguindanao provincial capitol in Sultan Kudarat town on June 16, 2015. Seventy five firearms are being turned over to the Independent Decommissioning Body by the MILF. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

In a statement Tuesday, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said the symbolic decommissioning showed the government’s and MILF’s “commitment establishing a lasting peace in Mindanao”.

“This is the act of peace, the show of sincerity in the peace process, that we have all been waiting for from the MILF and the government.

“Beginning today, the MILF will beat swords to ploughshares as soldiers will begin to bring life to the land instead of taking from it. Today, mothers will begin to send their children to school again without fear, and welcome them home happily. Today, children will start learning to be children, and hope never to learn about war again,” Hataman said.

“We silence the guns today and our voices will drown the songs of war; our voice will echo the calls for peace. We have been doing so for the past 17 years, culminating in a document we now know as the Bangsamoro Basic Law. This Law, the fruit of many legal minds, both Moro and non-Moro, will be the rock on which lasting peace and eventual economic progress in Mindanao can be built,” he added.

Hataman noted the BBL was facing an “obstacle race” in the Senate. “We pray that this race will soon end and the BBL be hailed as victorious.” (MindaNews)

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