Establish rapport with MILF members, security sector told

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COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 23 Apr) – Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. has urged the security sector, especially the police, to establish good rapport with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to avoid jeopardizing the Bangsamoro peace process.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatants in a military formation at Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao. MILF fighters will be decommissioned in line with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the final peace deal between the government and the MILF signed in 2014. MindaNews file photo by BONG S. SARMIENTO

Galvez issued the statement in the wake of the crafting of the Executive Order (EO) on the Normalization Process, which involves the decommissioning of MILF fighters and their firearms as well as the transformation of MILF camps into progressive economic zones.

Representatives from the government and the MILF are crafting the EO.

According to Galvez, it is very important for the police, in particular, and the security sector, in general, to fully understand the intricacies of the Bangsamoro peace process.

He warned that a single miscalculation on their part could have a major impact on the region’s peace and security situation.

For this initiative to succeed, the chief peace adviser emphasized the importance of fostering stronger relationships with the MILF, especially with the ex-fighters.

“We should start to communicate and establish confidence–building measures, and good relationships with them,” Galvez told members of the Philippine National Police assigned in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) recently.

The BARMM replaced the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao last February following two separate plebiscites that resulted to the ratification of the Bangsamoro organic law.

The new law is anchored on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the final peace deal signed by the Philippine government and the MILF in 2014 after four decades of conflict that left at least 120,000 individuals dead, including civilians.

The normalization process is one of the annexes of the CAB.

The EO on Normalization is a comprehensive plan of the national government that is designed to aid former combatants as they undergo the delicate transition process, Galvez said.

Galvez stressed that the BARMM Police Regional Office will play a critical role in maintaining peace and order in the region, especially in communities that will undergo the decommissioning process.

Under the EO, the PNP will be part of several transitional bodies. These include the Joint Peace and Security Teams, which will need at least 1,600 police personnel.

Galvez had disclosed that some 12,000 MILF combatants “will be decommissioned this year.”

MILF chair Murad Ebrahim, now the interim Chief Minister of the BARMM government, said earlier they had “as much as 40,000 combatants” for phased decommissioning as key milestones in the peace process are achieved.

The ceremonial decommissioning of 145 combatants was completed in 2015 under former President Benigno Aquino III. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)

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