PHL gov’t, MILF to ink protocol on decommissioning of MILF arms, forces

By Joann Santiago

MANILA, Jan 28 (PNA) — The protocol on the decommissioning of arms and forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is set to be signed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday.

In a statement Wednesday, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said signatories of the protocol are panel chairmen of the government’s peace panel and that of the MILF as well as the chairman of the Turkey-led International Decommissioning Body (IDB) and the facilitator of Malaysia.

She said they will also talk about the plans on how to turn-over the arms to the IDB, which is also tasked to look after the processing of combatants into productive civilians.

”The IDB will also be tasked with securing the weapons storage area where decommissioned weapons would be kept and put beyond use,” the statement said.

Signing of the IDB-drafted and recommended implementing guidelines came in the heels of the death of nearly 50 members of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) after a “mis-encounter” with MILF members last Sunday.

However, the statement said decommissioning of combatants and weapons is part of the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which the government and the MILF inked in March 2014.

Earlier, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said they are ready for this process and disclosed that about 75 high-powered firearms and crew-served weapons will be submitted for the first batch that would be turned-over.

Under the Annex on Normalization, one of the key components of the peace deal, the decommissioning process will be implemented in four phases, along with other tracks such as socio-economic programs, confidence-building measures, redeployment of AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), policing, disbandment of private armies and other armed groups, transitional justice and reconciliation. (PNA)