Decommissioning not tantamount to surrendering

“We are not surrendering. Decommissioning is not tantamount to surrendering,”

Thus declared Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, the Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), during the ceremony for the decommissioning of 1,060 combatants and 920 weapons of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the armed wing of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) held at the gymnasium of the Old Provincial Capitol in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on September 7.

The weapons were turned over to the custody of the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB)

“I would like to emphasize the decommissioning does not mean we have given up what we used to fight for,” Ebrahim said.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPPRU) saiddecommissioning is a clear testament of the MILF’S desire to sustain the gains of the peace process, President Duterte’s political will and unwavering commitment to fulfill all signed peace agreements.

“As we proceed with the decommissioning process, let me assure our MILF combatants that the government will assist you as you reintegrate into society and enjoy fruitful and productive civilian lives,” said President Rodrigo Duterte during the ceremony.

As provided in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF 'agree that normalization is vital to the peace process. It is through normalization that communities can return to conditions where they can achieve their desired quality of life, which includes the pursuit of sustainable livelihoods and political participation within a peaceful deliberative society.'

'The aim of normalization, according to the FAB, is to ensure human security in the Bangsamoro. Normalization helps build a society that is committed to basic human rights where individuals are free from fear of violence or crime and where long-held traditions and value continue to be honored. Human security embraces a wide range of issues that would include violation of human and civil rights, social and political injustice and impunity,' the FAB further provides.

It is for this reason that 'the MILF shall undertake a graduated program for decommissioning of its forces so that they are put beyond use.'

The GPH and the MILF signed the FAB in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on October 15, 2012.

What is Decommissioning? Decommissioning is the process of putting the weapons of the MILF beyond use and the process of allowing a smooth transition for MILF combatants to productive life which shall be parallel and commensurate with the redeployment of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and dismantling of Private Armed Groups (PAGs) and other aspects of the peace agreements.

What is the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB)? The Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) is the body tasked to oversee the decommissioning of the MILF weapons and forces, chaired by the expert from the Republic of Turkey with members made up of one expert each from the Kingdom of Norway and Brunei Darussalam, and four local experts jointly nominated by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF. The IDB shall conduct verification, registration, validation and inventory of weapons and forces of the MILF.

It is worth mentioning here that the word ‘surrender’ is never found in the peace agreements signed by the GPH and the MILF.