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Decommissioning of MILF arms, forces to begin


The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) is set to start decommissioning weapons and combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

According to Chino Gaston's report for "24 Oras" on Wednesday,  MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, the appointed BTA interim chief minister, said they aim to complete the first batch within three months.

The BTA is the body that will serve as the government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) from 2019 to 2022.  BARMM will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as mandated under the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which was ratified in a plebiscite last month.

The process of arms turnover will be monitored by the Independent Decommissioning Board and would include the validation of some 7,000 to 13,000 MILF combatants and the turnover of around 2,000 weapons.

"Ongoing ang validation ng independent decommissioning body, so hopefully we can finish it, kasi ang sabi nila validation will take around three months so if that, parang mag-start sila this month," Murad said.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Undersecretary Nabil Tan, also a member of the BTA, said: "Baka puwede, mabilisan na, and then hopefully we can finish all those in December."

Referring to talks with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by founding chairman Nur Misuari, Tan added, "Masalimuhot 'yun eh and the leadership of the MILF, nagdo-double time sila kasi they need to talk to a big individual."

Misuari had a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday during which they discussed the possibility of a new peace deal.

At the turnover ceremony on Monday, Murad called on the public  to support the BTA in its three-year endeavor envisioned to pave the way for a lasting peace in the region plagued by decades of conflict.

"Our enemy is graft and corruption. Our enemy is manipulation of the government. Our enemy is nepotism. Our enemy is all those ills of government," he said.

Murad also said the BTA has started reaching out to other armed groups such as the Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Maute group.

Following the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the decommissioning of rebels and weapons is considered the next step in ensuring a smooth transition towards the creation of the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). —Margaret Claire Layug/ LDF, GMA News

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