OPAPRU: Gov't has concrete plans for MILF decommissioning

By Priam Nepomuceno

October 12, 2023, 10:51 am

<p>OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. <em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The government has concrete plans to expedite the decommissioning of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants, Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said Thursday.

"The government is making sure that with our partners and through the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) that the decommissioning process is executed with a level of trust and confidence, learning from the best practices and internationally accepted norms on the disarmament and demobilization of forces as done in other countries," he said in a statement.

He said the procedures instituted by the IDB seeks to ensure the integrity in the process and facilitate the smooth transition of combatants from their guerilla identities towards their transition to civilian lives.

“This is a comprehensive plan to carry out the decommissioning process for our MILF brothers and sisters until its completion, as well as the Normalization Program that will aid them in their transition,” the OPAPRU chief noted.

Galvez said the OPAPRU is expediting this process with urgency as the first regular Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) elections is less than two years away.

He also doused worries over the decommissioning process saying the IDB, a third party created under the peace agreement, ensures that a high level of trust and confidence is maintained.

Part of the mandate of the IDB is to make an inventory, verify, and validate MILF members and weapons and develop and implement a schedule of MILF decommissioning. It is their mandate to plan, design and implement techniques and technologies to do these.

“As of August 10, 2023, a total of 26,132 MILF combatants and 4,625 of their firearms have been successfully decommissioned since 2015 by the IDB, which is tasked to implement the decommissioning process,” Galvez noted.

He said the decommissioning, which is under the Normalization Track, involves a “whole-of-government, whole-of-society” approach, which is led by the OPAPRU in collaboration with concerned line agencies.

“We would like to address the perception by some that the decommissioning process is the sole responsibility of OPAPRU. This is not the case, because the process is an inclusive, concerted, and holistic effort,” he said.

“This means that all agencies of government are working together under President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s banner of unity to ensure the completion of the decommissioning process, as well as the four major components of the Normalization Program,” Galvez said.

These components, he said, include socio-economic, security, confidence-building, and Transitional Justice and Reconciliation (TJR), which are implemented by OPAPRU’s various peace mechanisms in partnership with other agencies.

Galvez pointed out the decommissioning is carried out alongside with the government’s programs on small arms and light weapons (SALW) and the disbandment of private armed groups (DPAGs).

“The good governors must understand that decommissioning is not a stand-alone process. It is complemented by our interventions to address the proliferation of loose firearms and neutralize private armed groups,” he said. (PNA)