SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao (MindaNews/15 July) – The government will waive the height, age and educational requirements for combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who want to become police or army troopers, top national and regional government officials confirmed over the weekend.
Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez, Jr. said that MILF members will be given priority in the hiring process for security forces in the newly-created Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
He particularly cited the Police Regional Office-BARMM, 6th Infantry Division (ID) based in Maguindanao, 1st ID based in Zamboanga del Sur and 11th ID based in Sulu would give priority in the hiring process to qualified Moro combatants, including members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
“We will write the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and the PNP (Philippine National Police) that qualified applicants coming from MILF and MNLF communities be given preference as part of community policing and the normalization process,” Galvez, head of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), told MindaNews in a text message.
Galvez, BARMM interim Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim and Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año had discussed the matter of foregoing some requirements for Moro combatants to become members of government forces.
In terms of the waived educational attainment, undergraduate Moro combatants hired as state troopers should finish a degree within 15 years of service, Galvez said.
“This is not an integration (of Moro combatants into government ranks) but a normal process. Part of the (peace) agreement allows the waiving of some requirements to accommodate more qualified applicants,” Ebrahim said in a text message in Filipino.
Ebrahim, popularly known as MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, said no quota was discussed since it will all depend on the individual MILF member whether or not he or she will join the police or the army.
The government and the MILF signed the final Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in 2014 after four decades of conflict that left dead over 120,000 people, including civilians.
The CAB’s major component is the creation of a new Bangsamoro region, which was realized with the ratification early this year of Republic Act 11054 or Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, popularly called the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
The BARMM replaced the 29-year-old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Under the BOL, the age, height, and educational requirements of MILF combatants may be waived by the National Police Commission, and that they should apply within five years from the ratification of the BOL, OPAPP said in a statement.
The MILF is a splinter of the MNLF, which signed a separate final peace agreement with the government in 1996.
Under the CAB’s Annex on Normalization, Galvez said that at least 1,600 PNP members will be trained as part of the Joint Peace Security Teams (JPST).
The JPST members will help secure communities during the camp transformation and the decommissioning of 12,000 or 30 percent of MILF combatants this year.
Based on the normalization timeline, 35 percent of the combatants will be decommissioned by next year. The rest will undergo decommissioning from 2021 to 2022. This process will be completed before the signing of an exit agreement as stipulated in the CAB.
The pilot decommissioning of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, the MILF’s armed wing, happened in 2015 during the term of former President Benigno Aquino III, as a result of the signing of the CAB the previous year. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)