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MILF readies ‘decommissioning’ of 14,000 more armed fighters

DAVAO CITY—The largest group of Moro “mujahideens,” or armed fighters, from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are set to be decommissioned this month as part of the decommissioning process that was agreed upon by government and the MILF in their final peace settlement.

The third phase involves 14,000 fighters, from out of the estimated 40,000 fighters under the MILF’s armed wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Force.

The information office of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said the third phase of  decommissioning process has started on November 8 in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

The November 8 decommissioning program was witnessed by officials and
representatives from government, the MILF, the foreign-led Independent
Decommissioning Body (IDB), and the Bangsamoro government.

The formal decommissioning process would also be conducted in five assembly and processing areas (APAs) in Mindanao. The Sultan Kudarat decommissioning program in the old Provincial Capitol of Sultan Kudarat municipality was designated first APA for the entire phase three of decommissioning.

In his message, MILF Peace Implementing Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal said that decommissioning was a critical component of “normalization.”

“We may know decommissioning as putting weapons beyond use, but at the core of it is the combatants’ well-being, livelihood, and security, their families, and communities,” Iqbal said. He was the MILF vice chairman for information and now holds the concurrent position of BARMM education minister.

“We welcome the third phase of the decommissioning process. It serves
as a testament to MILF’s commitment to the peace process and the strong partnership with GPH [Government of the Philippines] addressing the underlying cause of the conflict, inequality, and poverty in the Bangsamoro region,” Iqbal said.

The third phase of the decommission of the MILF fighters and their weapons came on the heels of a recent decision by the Philippine government, through Republic Act 11593, extended the period of the transition in the Bangsamoro government. The law extended to the year 2025 the term of the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority, which serves as the regional government’s Parliament.

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