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On MILF decommissioning:

The Bangsamoro has shown sincerity, Congress can follow suit, says peace group

Press Release
June 19, 2015

MANILA – “If the turnover of firearms and transition from rebel to civilian life are positive indicators of sincerity to peace, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have accomplished a big and crucial step forward. Now it’s time for Congress, specially the Senate to follow suit by passing a ‘just’ Bangsamoro Basic Law,” said Gus Miclat, a convener of the All-Out-Peace (AOP) movement, a nationwide network of peace advocates in reaction to the MILF decommissioning ceremony held recently in Maguindanao where the rebel group turned over 75 high-powered weapons and de-mobilized 145 of its combatants.

The first phase of the decommissioning program is part of the Annex on Normalization of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which indicates that the MILF’s firearms will be put beyond use and combatants will be assisted to return to civilian lives. The normalization process also includes socio-development programs, confidence-building measures, such as the transformation of camps to ordinary communities and amnesty, and the creation of a reconciliation committee.

Miclat added, “it’s a very laudable action on the part of the MILF and it must be reciprocated to strengthen the trust and confidence between the peace actors. Passing a just BBL that reflects the Bangsamoro’s aspiration for peace and self-rule is not only a duty but an obligation that must be fulfilled by the government. Congress must do it for the sake of the entire nation.”

The group also reiterated its concern to a watered-down version of the BBL, saying that a diluted BBL will not genuinely serve the interest of the whole nation for peace and social justice in the Bangsamoro. Miclat continued, “the decommissioning was based on the CAB and we are witness to how the MILF followed this stipulation in the peace agreement. Congress should therefore enact a CAB-based BBL where the fundamental rights, welfare and freedoms of the Bangsamoro are ensured.”

Contemplate on BBL during Ramadan

As Islamic communities nationwide started the holy month of Ramadan, the AOP likewise urged lawmakers deliberating on the BBL to extend solidarity to the Bangsamoro by contemplating on the merits of passing the said law this month of July.

“For the sake of peace, renewal and hope of the Bangsamoro for a just and peaceful society, we respectfully appeal to our lawmakers to reflect on their positions on the BBL in this sacred period. The urgent task for them is to legislate peace and social justice for the Bangsamoro and to conclude the 17 years of peace negotiations by passing the BBL,” Miclat concluded.