PRESIDENT Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. expressed hope the government is "one step closer" to achieving its goal of lasting peace and security in Mindanao following the third phase of the decommissioning of Moro Islamic Liberation Front-Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (MILF-BIAF) and their weapons earlier in this week.

"The resumption of the decommissioning of former Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces fighters and their weapons in Maguindanao reaffirms our commitment to the peace process and the BARMM [Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao]," the President said in a statement.

At least 5,500 combatants of the MILF-BIAF and 2,100 of their high-caliber weapons were decommissioned at the old Maguindanao Provincial Capitol in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao last Tuesday.

The event was led by representatives from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, Independent Decommissioning Body, Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government.

About 14,000 former rebels are to be decommissioned under the Normalization of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, 7,200 of which had already been reintroduced to mainstream society last November 2021.

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The process is expected to be concluded by the end of the year.

Since the start of decommissioning in 2015, a total of 19,345 MILF fighters have undergone the process, while 2,175 weapons were destroyed.

The decommissioning process is being handled by the IDB, which was created by the government and MILF negotiating panels under the CAB.

It is composed of representatives from the governments of Turkey, Norway, Brunei, as well as local experts nominated by the government and MILF peace panels.

"This milestone event brings us closer to securing a lasting peace in Mindanao," Marcos said.