Galvez: Gov’t, MILF drafting IRR of Annex on Normalization

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 9 March) – Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. has disclosed that the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are working on the formulation of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Annex on Normalization of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) to pave the way for the decommissioning of “12,000 MILF combatants this year.”

MILF combatants standing in military formation at the MILF’s sprawling Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao. MindaNews file photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO

Galvez said both sides are working double time to finish next month the IRR of the normalization phase, one of the tracks of the CAB, the final peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF in 2014 after four decades of conflict that killed over 120,000 individuals, including civilians.

Last Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the executive order on the implementation of the Annex on Normalization.

Galvez identified the four major components of the normalization process as the security aspect, socio-economic development program, confidence-building measures, and transitional justice and reconciliation.

At the core of the security component is the decommissioning of MILF combatants and putting their weapons beyond use, and the disbandment of private armed groups.

Under the normalization track, Galvez said the MILF forces will be decommissioned in four phases, of which the ceremonial decommissioning of 145 combatants was completed in 2015 under former President Benigno Aquino III.

“Thirty percent, or more or less 12,000 combatants, [are] scheduled [for decommissioning] late this year,” Galvez said in a statement issued Thursday evening.

Another 35 percent will be decommissioned in 2020, while the remaining will be done in 2021-2022 before the signing of the exit agreements, he added.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said the provincial government is willing to help bring normalcy to the lives of decommissioned combatants.

“Guns only bring chaos,” he said in support of the disarming of MILF fighters. “We have been inviting investors on agricultural ventures that could help transform MILF combatants into productive members of society.”

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim earlier said they have “as much as 40,000 members” for phased decommissioning as key milestones in the peace process are achieved.

In a January 25, 2019 MindaNews report, Murad said the 40,000 are “not necessarily all armed but all are under the official roster of the BIAF.”

BIAF is the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, the MILF’s armed wing.

Murad said the MILF-owned weapons are only 6,000 to 7,000 and they are reckoning the 30 percent to be decommissioned from this number. Thirty per cent of “6,000 to 7,000” is 1,800 to 2,100 weapons.

Under the CAB, the normalization phase will follow after the political track, which had been complied with the passage of Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which Duterte signed last year.

During a plebiscite on January 21, voters ratified the Bangsamoro law that abolished the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and created the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Cotabato City, which twice rejected to be part of ARMM, voted for inclusion to the new Bangsamoro region.

Sixty-three villages in North Cotabato also opted to join the BARMM during the second plebiscite on February 6.

Last month, ARMM officials turned over the reins of power to BARMM, which is headed by Murad as the interim chief minister until the first set of officials is elected in 2022.

Galvez said the IRR will contain the work plan over a three-year period and all the programs for the security, socio-economic programs, and transitional justice.

Under the security component, transitional bodies such as the Joint Normalization Committee, Joint Peace and Security Committee, and Joint Peace and Security Teams will be created.

Galvez said that under the socio-economic component of the normalization track, recognized MILF camps will be transformed into productive zones and the former combatants into peaceful and productive members of mainstream society. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)

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