Govt, MILF sign disarmament pact

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THE government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels on Friday signed the 10-page implementing guidelines for the decommissioning of weapons and fighters of the secessionist group, five days after these same firearms killed 44 elite policemen in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao province.

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“Standing by their commitment to achieve the objectives of the normalization process, the Parties finalized and signed the Protocol on the Implementation of the Terms of Reference of the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB),” the Joint Statement issued by panel chairs Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Mohagher Iqbal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia said.

The IDB is the recent addition to the set of mechanisms that will implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). It is tasked to supervise and monitor the decommissioning process.

According to the agreed protocol, the IDB will conduct the inventory, verification and validation of the members, arms and weapons of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF); develop and implement the schedule of decommissioning of BIAF members; plan, design, and implement techniques and technologies for weapons collection or retrieval, transport, and storage and putting weapons beyond use in accordance with the agreements of the Parties.

MILF combatants and weapons will be processed and registered in four batches and in several Assembly and Processing Areas (APAs). The collected weapons will be placed in secured containers in guarded storage areas until such time that these are put permanently beyond use.

The decommissioning will be done in four phases. Under Phase 1, a ceremonial turning in of 75 high-powered weapons will signal the actual start of the process. By the time of the ratification of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, 30 percent of MILF weapons and combatants would have been decommissioned. Another 35 percent will follow under Phase 3 and the balance, under Phase 4.

The IDB is also tasked to ensure that the Parties comply with all the necessary steps and processes for decommissioning.

The Protocol was a product of three months deliberations between the parties and the IDB. It drew from international standards established in the course of implementing the decommissioning of combatants and weapons in different parts of the world such as in Nepal, Northern Ireland and Aceh, said GPH panel chair Coronel-Ferrer.

Responding to the public clamor for the MILF to prove its commitment and sincerity in abiding by the signed agreements, the two parties agreed to discuss measures that they would undertake in order to jointly quell criminality and terrorism in affected Mindanao communities.

“In accordance with the statements made by President Aquino and Chair Murad in relation to this tragic incident, the Parties reaffirmed their commitment to the attainment of peace that has long eluded Mindanao. In this vein, they resolved to strengthen their cooperation and coordination in addressing security concerns in the most effective and appropriate manner, and also in rebuilding trust and public confidence in the peace process,” the Joint Statement stressed.

The parties also expressed “deep sympathy and grief for the loss of lives in the early morning of January 25, 2015 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao” and pledged support for the investigations being conducted by the Board of Inquiry and the MILF’s Special Investigative Commission.

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