MILF FIREARMS TO BE PLACED UNDER LOCK AND KEY

0
 A day after the agreement on the creation of Bangsamoro was signed, Muslims attend Friday prayers at the Golden Mosque in Quiapo, Manila. PHOTO BY MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

A day after the agreement on the creation of Bangsamoro was signed, Muslims attend Friday prayers at the Golden Mosque in Quiapo, Manila. PHOTO BY MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

Signing the peace agreement with the government does not mean that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is giving up its firearms, its chief negotiator said on Friday.

“There is no element of surrender. No destruction of firearms,” MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal emphasized at a press conference on Friday, a day after the historic agreement was signed.

Iqbal likened the MILF weapons to a car that will be put in a garage with the key handled by a soon-to-be formed independent body.

“We are very clear that it will be put beyond use, and our counterpart from the government is fully aware that there will be no destruction of firearms,” he said, adding that the MILF’s weapons will be stored in a warehouse where both parties will have no key.


“The firearms of the MILF would be decommissioned” and a third party would take charge. “These will be stored in a warehouse . . . The MILF does not control the key.

Neither the government controls the key. So it is simply like that,” he added.

Iqbal said the MILF will also persuade its members to lay down their weapons in exchange for “real peace” in Mindanao.

“There is no other way to have real peace in Mindanao except to undertake the decommissioning of our forces and firearms,” he said.

“When everything has been settled and everything is put in place, then who is in need of firearms? Nobody needs firearms except the duly constituted authority and in this case [it’s] the police for the Bangsamoro. So this is the logic, this is the wisdom,” he said.

Like Iqbal, government peace panel chairman Miriam Ferrer does not see the need for the MILF to turn in its firearms, saying the agreement is “based on the dignity.”

“We have a democratic process for that,” Ferrer said. “The result is a democratic governance that would enable meaningful autonomy and ensure that the opportunities that have been denied to the people, especially in the areas that have long been affected by the conflict, would now be given.”

She said an independent body will determine the number of firearms in MILF hands.
“What is going to happen is that an inventory of firearms and combatants will be submitted by the MILF to an independent decommissioning body,” Ferrer said.

The body will conduct “a joint needs and skills assessment so that so that the decommissioning [of the arms]is very much integrated with socioeconomic components of the programs,” she said.

“The guns will be [placed]under lock and key and the principle is that these will be put beyond use,” Ferrer said.

A day after the agreement’s signing, the allies of President Benigno Aquino 3rd in the House of Representatives said they will not let selfish interests and delaying tactics get in the way once debates on the basic law that will establish the Bangsamoro begins.

The assurance came from Sitti Hataman of Anak Mindanao, Sherwin Tugna of Citizens Battle Against Corruption party-list, Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar and Rodel Batocabe of Ako-Bicol.

“The debates must be towards making the law better and more responsive to the aspirations of the people and the nation, not to promote or protect selfish interests. As for delaying tactics by dragging debates, it is a challenge that the leadership must address.

This is an opportunity for the House leadership to prove wisdom and will,” Hataman, the vice chairman of the House Committee on Muslim Affairs, said in a text message.

“We call on our fellow legislators to be objective by raising only valid concerns covered by the Bangsamoro Basic Law and not unwarranted perceptions,” Hataman, the wife of Governor Mujiv Hataman of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), added.

Congress is expected to receive the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law by June.

Once the bill hurdles Congress, a plebiscite will be held to determine which areas will make up Bangsamoro.

“Those who have questions on the [Bangsamoro Basic] law will be given full opportunity to raise their concerns. You can determine if it becomes a delaying tactic when questions and issues raised are repetitive, despite the fact that it has been addressed already, or if the interpellator’s arguments lack basis in fact and in law,” Tugna, the House Deputy Majority Leader, said.

“The debates will be part of the process to sharpen the proposed basic law and make sure that all the aspects of the aspirations of the Bangsamoro are respected. Any attempt to derail its passage by filibustering will be rejected by the majority,” Evardone, vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, pointed out.

Batocabe said achieving peace and stability in Mindanao “should be above any personal and parochial interest. In achieving peace, it is not only about bloodshed and tears. We should also learn to sacrifice our personal needs and convenience in favor of the common good.”

Reps. Celso Lobregat of Zamboanga City and Thelma Almario of Davao Oriental had raised fears that the Bangsamoro Basic Law could be deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, like what the Court did to the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain in 2008.

With a report from Llanesca T. Panti

Share.
.
Loading...

Please follow our commenting guidelines.

Comments are closed.