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HomeNational NewsDuterte re-assures decommissioned MILF combatants: Don’t be afraid

Duterte re-assures decommissioned MILF combatants: Don’t be afraid

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By Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao (September 7, 2019) — As President Rodrigo Roa Duterte addressed the Moro Islamic Liberation Front – Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (MILF-BIAF) combatants who underwent the process of decommissioning today, he had a clear message for them: do not lose heart and continue the fight.

MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. (right) showcased to President Rodrigro Duterte (center) on Saturday September 7, 2019, the 920 high-powered firearms including 60mm and 81mm mortars; 7 crew-mounted M2 Browning caliber 50 machineguns; and 500 RPG rocket launchers which were voluntarily turned over 1,060 former MILF combatants to the International Decommissioning Body (IDB). As promised the government handed 100,000 cash to each decommissioned former MILF combatant intended for the scholarships and other socio-economic benefits for their family and community held at Gymnasium old Provincial Capitol compound, Bgy Simuay Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.>Mark Navales
MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. (right) showcased to President Rodrigro Duterte (center) on Saturday September 7, 2019, the 920 high-powered firearms including 60mm and 81mm mortars; 7 crew-mounted M2 Browning caliber 50 machineguns; and 500 RPG rocket launchers which were voluntarily turned over 1,060 former MILF combatants to the International Decommissioning Body (IDB). As promised the government handed 100,000 cash to each decommissioned former MILF combatant intended for the scholarships and other socio-economic benefits for their family and community held at Gymnasium old Provincial Capitol compound, Bgy Simuay Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. | Photo by Mark Navales, special to DNX.

“Do not be sad na ang armas ninyo, binigay ‘nyo sa gobyerno, kasi kayo, gobyerno na,” Duterte told the 1,060 MILF-BIAF members who all wore identical light blue shirts with the word “decommissioned” printed in bold letters at the back side.

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(Do not be sad that you turned over your arms to the government because you are now of the government.)

Inyo na itong gobyerno na ito. Binigay na namin sa inyo,” Duterte said in his keynote address to drive home the point, as the former combatants burst into applause.

(This government is yours. We’ve given it to you.)

Campaign promise

While he was campaigning for the highest post in the land, then Mayor Duterte shook the status quo and called upon the Filipino nation and the current administration to address the historical injustices against the Bangsamoro.

When he assumed the presidency, his policy team immediately drew up a six-point Peace and Development Agenda which highlighted the need to fulfil all signed agreements with the various Moro fronts.

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Duterte then threw his full support behind the passage and ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), and presided over the official inauguration of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region Mindanao (BARMM) and the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA). 

“I take pride in the fact that we have made significant progress in the implementation of the agreements arising from the Comprehensive Agreement on [the] Bangsamoro, including the very important Annex on Normalization that covers the decommissioning process,” the President said.

He also underscored the significance of the decommissioning process in the national government’s overall peace-building efforts in Mindanao.

“As we proceed with the decommissioning process, let me assure our MILF combatants that the government will assist you as you reintegrate into society and enjoy fruitful and productive civilian lives. I look forward to having you as government’s partners as we take further strides in securing lasting peace and order in Mindanao,” the President said.

“Let me also take this opportunity to assure the officials of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, the MILF, and the people of Mindanao that this administration will always listen to your grievances. Let us set aside our differences and avoid further armed conflict,” he added.

Decommissioning: 1,060 stories of love, faith and sacrifice

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BARMM Interim Chief Minster Al Haj Murad Ebrahim acknowledged the significant contribution of the President in the Bangsamoro peace process, as he presented the decommissioned combatants to the Chief Executive.

“The 1,060 combatants who are to be decommissioned today here in this place are not ordinary individuals. They are 1,060 individuals whose lives were drastically affected,” Ebrahim said, as he looked at his comrades with great pride.

“These are 1,060 stories of love, faith, and sacrifice for the sake of Allah and for the sake of the aspirations of every Bangsamoro,” he said, admitting that the decommissioning process will be a challenging phase as the former combatants make the transition to civilian life.

“For many years, our training has been grounded on the armed struggle. Ebrahim said. “But now, our brave combatants will face a significantly different form of struggle to transform to civilian lives and embrace a new mindset.”

“That instead of going to the field for conflict, we will now go to the field to harvest our crops; that instead of carrying firearms, we will now carry tools for work and education; that instead of thinking about a possible encounter the next day, we can now think of opportunities that await us, our children, and those who will follow,” he said.

Strong political will

For his part, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito G. Galvez Jr. underscored the crucial role of President Duterte in building on and sustaining the gains of peace in Mindanao, particularly for shepherding the Bangsamoro peace process.

“The relative peace we are experiencing now in Mindanao is the product of the President’s strong political will,” Galvez said, who prior to the decommissioning ceremony, accompanied Duterte in viewing the 920 MILF weapons turned-over to the International Decommissioning Body (IDB).

A  snappy salute to the President from a member of Bangsamoro Islamic  Women Auxiliary Brigade (BIWAB) of the BIAF-MILF on Saturday September  7, 2019. Out of 1,060 decommissioned MILF combatants, there are 106 who were members the BIWAB. As promised the government handed 100,000 cash to each decommissioned former MILF combatant intended for the scholarships and other socio-economic benefits for their family and community held at Gymnasium old Provincial Capitol compound, Bgy Simuay Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. | Photo by Mark Navales, special to DNX.
A snappy salute to the President from a member of Bangsamoro Islamic Women Auxiliary Brigade (BIWAB) of the BIAF-MILF on Saturday September 7, 2019. Out of 1,060 decommissioned MILF combatants, there are 106 who were members the BIWAB. As promised the government handed 100,000 cash to each decommissioned former MILF combatant intended for the scholarships and other socio-economic benefits for their family and community held at Gymnasium old Provincial Capitol compound, Bgy Simuay Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. | Photo by Mark Navales, special to DNX.

“This was manifested in the unwavering support he gave during the drafting of the BOL’s passage in congress, the campaign for [the law’s] ratification, and finally, the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the Bangsamoro Transition Authority,” he said.

Galvez also expressed his gratitude to national government line agencies, local government units, civil society, foreign donor organizations, and the various ceasefire mechanisms and normalization bodies which paved the way for the decommissioning process.

“The strong partnership between the GPH and the MILF has once again proven that nothing is impossible as long, we stand together and work hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder, in our quest for sustainable and enduring peace in Mindanao,” he stressed.

“I urge everyone to continue to put their faith in the peace process. There is no other way but to pursue the path of peace. We shall continue to hold the line so that we will be able to bring enduring peace and sustainable development in the Bangsamoro,” he concluded..(OPAPP)

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DNX News Desk
DNX News Desk
Pioneer digital-first news and information source based in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental province. We are committed to providing high-quality journalism to our audience.

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