• Deles confident MILF will turn over guns by yearend

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    The presidential peace adviser, Secretary Teresita Deles, is confident that combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will turn over their firearms to the government by the end of the year.

    “In fact, the decommissioning process has started under the supervision of an independent body. There will be a formal turnover of high-powered weapons of the MILF by the end of the year,” Deles said when asked by Rep. Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list about the timetable of decommissioning of MILF fighters. Alejano, a former Marine captain, expressed apprehension on the commitment of the MILF in turning over their firearms.

    He noted that the decommissioning process is provided under the initial comprehensive agreement but was excluded in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

    “We expect 35 percent [of the weapons]to be turned over upon the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, another 30 percent upon finishing the plebiscite, and so forth until 2016,” Deles said.

    Moreover, she noted, the fact that the MILF already turned itself into a political party that will compete in the 2016 polls is an explicit recognition that it cannot deploy its own armed forces.

    “The MILF is well aware that a political party is not allowed to have armed forces,” Deles pointed out.

    Chairman Mohagher Iqbal of the MILF agreed with Deles, saying there is no purpose for armed struggle anymore because there are no enemies left.

    “What used to be our enemy is not the Philippine government, or the Philippine soldiers. Our enemy is oppression. We were able to talk with them in a negotiating table and come up with an agreement because they are not our enemies,” Iqbal said.

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