12,000 MILF combatants and their weapons decommissioned

Old Provincial Capitol, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao (March 16, 2020) – A total of 12,000 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants and 2,100 of their weapons have been decommissioned, as the government provided a total of PhP 1.2 billion in transitory cash assistance to the former fighters to help them make the successful transition to civilian life.

This officially concludes the second phase of decommissioning for the MILF- Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) members and their weapons, a process which began in August 2019 and concluded this month.

The decommissioning or demobilization of MILF forces is among the key provisions of the Annex on Normalization of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which aims to help them return to mainstream society as peaceful and productive citizens.

During the resumption of the second phase of decommissioning last February 2020, MILF Peace Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal said the peace agreement between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF states: “[the] MILF shall undertake graduated decommissioning of each weapons and combatants parallel and commensurate to the implementation of the other agreement.”

Iqbal explained that phase three of the decommissioning process, which will be composed of 35% of the total 40,000 combatants to be decommissioned under the normalization track of the CAB, shall be triggered by operationalization of the Bangsamoro police force.

He added that for the fourth and final phase of decommissioning to take place, Iqbal said “substantial compliance of both parties of all the provisions of the [peace] agreement” have to be complied with.

The ceremonial closing of the second phase of decommissioning was scheduled to be facilitated by the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB), but was postponed to the current COVID-19 health crisis.