BARMM gov’t: Three more years needed to deactivate MILF guerillas


John Unson (Philstar.com) – February 13, 2021 – 4:18pm
COTABATO CITY, Philippines — The 25-month Bangsamoro government needs three more years to reintroduce thousands of hardcore Moro guerillas into mainstream society, a senior regional official said Saturday.

The creation of the now two-year Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that replaced in February 2019 the 29-year Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is a product of 22 years of peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, BARMM’s local government minister, announced over the popular Catholic Station dxMS here Saturday that their bid for an extension of the ARMM-to-BARMM transition for three more years is for them to have enough time to deactivate MILF fighters and usher them back to the local communities.

Residents of BARMM, whose appointed chief minister, Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, is MILF’s figurehead, are supposed to elect the first set of regional officials during next year’s May elections.

“The extension we desire is not about a hold to power, but to have enough time to deactivate thousands of MILF members who need socio-economic, psycho-social and other support to enable them to start life all over again,” Sinarimbo said.

Various groups and a number of peace advocates, among them Mindanao’s top Catholic church leader, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, and Gov. Nancy Catamco of North Cotabato, which is not even inside BARMM’s core territory, have manifested favor for the extension of the transition process.

Such extension requires imprimatur from the legislature, which has to cancel next year’s supposed first ever BARMM regional polls via an enabling measure.

“We have lawmakers in the House of Representatives and in the Senate who  have expressed support for such, which is so essential in building enduring peace in the Bangsamoro region,” Sinarimbo said.

The deactivation of MILF guerillas is being initiated by a multinational bloc, the International Decommissioning Body, or IDB, led by the Turkish government.

The IDB still has to disarm no fewer than 20,000 MILF members scattered in the Bangsamoro region.

Turkey is a member-state of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC, comprised of more than 50 Muslim states, including wealthy petroleum exporting countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The two compacts between the MILF and Malacañang that paved the way for the creation of BARMM — the 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and, subsequently, the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro — were reached by both sides with the help of Malaysia, also an OIC-member state, as facilitator.

The MILF has representatives to the IDB, whose decommissioning thrusts are being complemented by BARMM with humanitarian and socio-economic interventions meant to fully transform former rebels into peaceful and productive residents of the autonomous region.

“That is a very tedious and challenging process. We need enough time for that,” Sinarimbo said.

The infant BARMM covers the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan and Marawi that are still struggling to bounce back from the effects of decades of secessionist strife. 



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