Narratives of decommissioned combatants compiled in a book

Life stories of decommissioned MILF combatants can now be read in a book which was formally launched on February 15 at the BTC office in Cotabato City.

Titled as “The Journey of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s First Ex-Combatants,” the 50-page publication compiles the narratives of 10 of the 145 MILF combatants who were part of the group that was decommissioned, albeit symbolically, on June 16 last year.

Although the decommissioning process is covered by rules of confidentiality, the MILF agreed to the conduct of interviews on 10 of its decommissioned combatants to share their voices and experiences.

Emma Leslie, Executive-Director of the Cambodia-based Center for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPCS) which undertook the publication, expressed gratitude to the MILF for understanding the importance of recording and sharing the stories of some of its combatants.

In its preface, the book hails them as men who have mustered “bravery to sit and reflect about one’s own life during a moment of uncertainty, during a moment of transition from the “known” to the “unknown”.

The book intends to “recognize their journey and provide them with a safe platform through which they could share their stories.”

Decommissioning is the gradual and phased process through which MILF forces and combatants are put beyond use. It includes the transition of the MILF’s BIAF to a peaceful civilian life. 

During the symbolic decommissioning program on June 16, 2015, MILF Chairman Alhaj Murad Ebrahim stressed that the decommissioning is not a surrender but a “long walk towards transformation … to higher struggle” where the MILF is transformed from an armed revolutionary organization to political organization ready to govern and serve the Bangsamoro.

Its implementation is also “parallel and commensurate” to implementation of signed agreements, particularly to the passage of the BBL.

The book launch was witnessed by MILF and GPH Peace Panels Chairmen Mohagher Iqbal and Prof. Miriam Coronel Ferrer, respectively; Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) Chairman Ambassador Mustafa Pulat, BTC Commissioners, AHJAG and MILF Peace Panel officials, International Monitoring Team and some of the decommissioned combatants whose life stories were included in the book.

BTC Chairman Mohagher Iqbal also took the opportunity to present tokens of appreciation to United Kingdom Embassy outgoing Second Secretary Thomas Phipps who worked actively in the International Contact Group (ICG).

He would be replaced by Rupert Compston who was also present in the event.

The book was published with assistance of the British Embassy in the Philippines. #####