OPAPRU assures corruption has no place in MILF decommissioning process

By Priam Nepomuceno

February 21, 2024, 10:19 am

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

OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) assured that it would not tolerate irregularities in the implementation of the decommissioning process for former combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"This government shall not tolerate any act of corruption or irregular transactions, more so those that undermine the well-being of our MILF brothers and sisters. Rest assured that this isolated incident will be thoroughly investigated, and will be brought to the attention of the MILF leadership," Galvez said in a statement Tuesday night.

The peace adviser issued the statement after three decommissioned MILF combatants aired their complaints during Tuesday's hearing on the decommissioning process held by the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace Unification and Reconciliation, chaired by Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada.

These former MILF members alleged that their commanders get a 50 percent cut from the PHP100,000 grant given to them.

Estrada and the OPAPRU chief also advised the complainants to submit an affidavit to the Senate to formalize their allegations and state their specific claims, which will serve as the basis for the conduct of a formal investigation into the matter.

In the same hearing, Mahajirin Ali, MILF’s Peace Implementing Panel Secretariat, emphasized that the MILF leadership will never tolerate such illicit acts.

Meanwhile, Cesar Yano, Government of the Philippines’ peace implementing panel chair, said he already brought up this concern to his counterpart, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal.

In the same hearing, Bangsamoro Parliament Deputy Speaker Lanang Ali Jr. said the MILF is fully committed to completing the decommissioning of its combatants before the conduct of the first regular elections in the BARMM.

Ali said that under the leadership of Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, “all MILF decommissioned combatants from our movement will turn into a social movement."

He said the decommissioned combatants will automatically become members of the political party known as the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) and actively participate in the 2025 regional elections.

On Feb. 17, the UBJP invited all decommissioned MILF combatants to their first Regional General Assembly, which signaled the start of their preparations for next year’s elections.

“We are targeting 100 percent [MILF decommissioning] by 2025 so that they can be clothed as legal [personalities] to participate in the 2025 elections,” he said.

PBMM wants peaceful first regular BARMM polls

As this developed, Galvez said President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has directed them to ensure that the first regular elections for the BARMM scheduled for May next year would be "peaceful and orderly."

Galvez expressed confidence that this can be done as he saw the commitment of the MILF to the orderly conduct of elections, as proven by the generally peaceful barangay elections in the region in October 2023.

"If we agree [that] we work hard to make the elections very peaceful, it can happen. We are very confident with the commitment of the MILF right now, the leadership of the Chief Minister, and also with the [MILF] Central Committee and the whole BARMM government,” Galvez said. (PNA)