Foreign experts to oversee MILF disarming

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Three foreign experts will oversee the disarming of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) while Congress deliberates on the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will establish a Bangsamoro region, according to the government chief negotiator.

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In a statement, Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on Sunday said the government and the MILF peace panels met on Saturday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to discuss and formalize the bodies and mechanisms that will roll out the normalization process.

She added that the total decommissioning of weapons and combatants will be in progress once Congress finishes deliberations on the proposed law constituting the Bangsamoro.

“The normalization process will be implemented simultaneously with the political process,” Ferrer said at the start of the three-day special meeting that is expected to end today.

The Philippine government and the MILF welcomed Major Muhammad Aiman Syazwi Bin Haji Abdul Rahim from Brunei Darussalam, Ambassador Haydar Berk from Turkey and Jan Erik Wilhemsen from Norway, who will sit in the International Decommissioning Body (IDB) that shall oversee the process of decommissioning the MILF.

The parties are also expected to jointly nominate four local experts to complete the seven-member body.

“We thank the governments of Brunei, Turkey and Norway for providing us with the valuable services of their respective experts. Decommissioning is a delicate and difficult component of any peace settlement,” Ferrer said.

“It must be done effectively and sensitively. It is an affirmative support to the normalization process and will contribute to advancing collective security in the future Bangsamoro region and the country as a whole,” she added.

The IDB shall inventory, verify and validate the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces members, arms and weapons; develop and implement a schedule of decommissioning of BIAF forces; plan, design and implement techniques and technologies for weapons collection or retrieval, transport, and storage and putting weapons beyond use in accordance with the agreement of the parties; and report on the progress of its work and submit its report to the government and MILF panels.

Aside from the IDB, the two other bodies integral to the normalization process include the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC), which will coordinate different normalization processes and mechanisms; and the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), which will undertake a study and recommend to the panels the appropriate mechanisms for transitional justice and reconciliation.

The JNC is headed by Undersecretary Zenonida Brosas for the government and Muhammad Nassif for the MILF. The government members include Gen. Ariel Bernardo (retired) and Gen. Leo Cresente M. Ferrer (retired) while MILF members include lawyers Naguib Sinarimbo and Blo Adiong.

Susan Guadalupe Marcaida and Toks Ebrahim will head the secretariat of the JNC.

Meanwhile, the TJRC was officially convened on the first day of the meeting.

The Swiss government upon request of the panels provided the international expert, Madame Mo Bleeker, who will serve as head of the TJRC. For the government, the TJRC representative is Cecilia Jimenez, while for the MILF, the TJRC representative is lawyer Ishak Mastura.

The TJRC is preparing to hold two events in early October in Cotabato City and in Manila to introduce the TJRC to the public and begin the process of consultations.

It will study and recommend to the panels appropriate mechanisms to address legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people, historical injustices, human rights violations and marginalization toward healing and reconciliation.

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