Peace panels form task force for MILF's turnover of weapons
MANILA, Philippines – As the clock ticks on the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro basic law, peace panels of the government and rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Tuesday, June 2, announced the creation of a task force that would oversee development programs for rebels as they return to mainstream life.
The Task Force for Decommissioned Combatants and their Communities will be composed of 3 members each from the MILF and the government.
"The new Task Force is part of the continuing effort by the government and the MILF to move forward the other dimensions of the peace agreement, alongside the passage of the law establishing the Bangsamoro government," government chief peace negotiator, professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, said in a statement.
Under the peace deal, the MILF agreed to turn over their firearms in exchange for the creation of an autonomous region with greater powers and resources. (READ: Gov't, MILF sign protocol for arms decommissioning)
The staggered decommissioning of MILF troops and forces is tied up with developments on the creation of the proposed Bangsamoro government.
A certain percentage of rebel firearms will be turned over after the proposed Bangsamoro basic law (BBL) is passed in Congress and ratified in a plebiscite (30%); when the Bangsamoro police is created (35%); and when the exit agreement is signed (35%) after the establishment of the Bangsamoro government.
The MILF has about 10,000 to 15,000 combatants, according to government estimates.
Rebel firearms would be stored in secured areas to be guarded by joint teams from the government and the MILF. An independent body is overseeing the entire decommissioning process.
The MILF was supposed to turn over 20 crew-served firearms and 55 high-powered weapons in a symbolic ceremony in February.
But tensions following the clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, which killed 67 Filipinos, postponed the ceremonies.
As the passage of the Bangsamoro bill remains uncertain in Congress, there has been no announcement on when the ceremonial turnover of firearms to mark the beginning of the decommissioning process would be held. – Rappler.com
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