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Normalization under GPH, MILF peace process includes disarmament of private armed groups–Deles

By Ben Cal

MANILA, Dec. 30 -– The government’s normalization process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will include not just the disarmament of the Muslim rebels but other private armed groups in the country.

“You don't just talk about the arms of the MILF, but also of everyone else,” said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles over the weekend.

“How can you ask the MILF to completely disarm if other groups or some families are armed?” she added.

“We are looking for a real partnership among the government, the MILF, and other governance constituencies to look at this matter on how to make a life more secure, to trust in the state forces to make them secure, and be engaged in other productive activities,” Deles pointed out.

The government and the MILF have just signed a Framework Agreement as a roadmap to find a genuine and lasting solution to the age-old armed conflict in Mindanao.

At the same time, Deles said that both parties would also work in partnership on the reduction and control of firearms in the area as well as the disbandment of private armies and other armed groups which she added as a challenge.

“As put in the Framework Agreement, decommissioning is phased and calibrated and will start once political commitments are delivered,” Deles said.

“We agreed that substantial decommissioning happens when the basic law is delivered,” she said.

Deles said “the MILF shall undertake a graduated program for decommissioning of its forces so that they are put beyond use.”

Moreover, a joint normalization committee will be formed for the coordination between the parties towards full decommissioning, which will be overseen by a third-party monitor composed of domestic and international partners of the peace process.

Deles said that it was understandable that for a movement like the MILF, which had been fighting for so long, its members would have a different perspective on decommissioning.

“On our part, it is also being able to assure fighters that there is life beyond fighting,” she said, adding “that is also part of the discussion, that is, what alternatives do you offer?”

“As the fighters see this on the ground – that the peace is real, the land can be cultivated, there is livelihood coming in, my children can go to school, health centers will be set up— then it will be a matter of not just me giving up something, but I will also get a better life for my children,” Deles said. (PNA)

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