DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 16 Sept) — The international community has vowed to provide financial and technical support as well as other needs of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, once RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is ratified in a plebiscite on January 21, 2019, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said.
In a message read by Peace Process Assistant Secretary Dickson P. Hermoso during a gathering of the US-Philippines Exchange Alumni at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao on Sunday, Dureza said the international community expressed trust and confidence in the work for peace of the government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The GPH and MILF signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace agreement signed on March 27, 2014.
RA 11054 is the enabling act of the CAB.
The CAB provides for the creation of a new autonomous political entity that would replace the 28-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Dureza said the international community’s support to the Bangsamoro peace process “shows there is overwhelming international recognition of our work. It is an affirmation of the effectiveness of (President Rodrigo) Duterte in leading our country towards just and sustainable peace.”
He said they are not only engaging the smaller peace table of the GPH and MILF but also the bigger peace table of the general public to make the work for peace more inclusive.
“I am asking each and every one of you to help us in small or big ways in pushing the peace agenda of the administration. We need to help our President, the first Mindanawon to hold the highest position in the land, in his goal of achieving just and lasting peace in the country,” he said.
Hermoso, the government’s representative in the Joint Normalization Committee with the MILF said around 30,000 MILF combatants will be decommissioned after the verification process of the independent decommissioning body will have been completed.
“We are just awaiting the list coming from the MILF so that we can start the verification of the independent decommissioning body and verification starts after the ratification of the law,” he said.
Hermoso explained that decommissioning would start next year for 9,000 combatants or at least 30% of the total MILF combatants.
He said the target completion of the decommissioning is before June 30, 2022, the end of the President’s term.
“They will become productive citizens — not only the combatants but also their families and the community. They will be equal now with ordinary citizens … full of hopes and of course opportunities to live decently,” he said.
Hermoso said that during the decommissioning, MILF combatants will undergo profiling and turn in their firearms.
He said they will be assessed on what skills they have so that they can get support from the government.
“I am from the Bangsamoro. I am optimistic that it will happen,” he said of the ratification of the Bangsamoro law.
He said the Bangsamoro Transition Authority with 80 members to be appointed by the President will run the new Bangsamoro government until the residents in the Bangsamoro elect their new leaders in the 2022 elections.
The proposed core territory of the Bangsamoro comprises the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s (ARMM) Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan.
The cities of Cotabato and Isabela are also part of the proposed core territory.
Residents in the six towns of Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays in North Cotabato that voted for inclusion in the expanded ARMM in 2001 will also vote during the plebiscite. But their inclusion in the Bangsamoro will require the consent of their mother units — Lanao del Norte and the towns in North Cotabato — which will also vote in the plebiscite. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews