MANILA: The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will start decommissioning its armed units only after the new Bangsamoro political entity has been set up in Mindanao in line with its agreement with the government, according to the front chairman.
In an interview posted on its website by Malaysia’s state-run Bernama news agency, Al Haj Murad said the decommissioning or disarming should also cover government militias and the gradual reduction of military forces in restive Mindanao. Murad pointed out that both the government and the MILF should co-ordinate and work closely together to ensure peace and security “on the ground” to help end decades-long war and violence in troubled Southern Philippines.
In this way, Murad said there is no longer the need for people to carry firearms thousands of which are illegal as admitted by the military and the police.
Decommissioning of the MILF armed units as well as other major issues like sharing of power and resources are still being discussed by the government and MILF panels in their formal exploratory talks hosted by Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia which has been retained as the third party facilitator.
Hopes for an eventual treaty to bring lasting peace to Mindanao have been raised following the signing of the framework agreement between the government and the MILF in Malacanang Palace on Oct.15.
Under the historic document, the government agreed to establish a new Bangsamoro political entity to be carved out initially from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The ARMM, one of the country’s poorest regions, is composed of the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi as well as Marawi City.
In their last meeting in early December in Kuala Lumpur, however, the two panels failed to come out with a signed statement, as they usually did, due to the unresolved contentious issues.
This development dashed optimism for the signing of a peace treaty before the end of the year amid the decision of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino to set up a 15-member Transition Commission to help hasten the process.