MILF to begin difficult process of laying weapons down

By , on September 30, 2014


A Bangsamoro militant in training (Wikipedia photo)
A Bangsamoro militant in training (Wikipedia photo)

KUALA LUMPUR— After an armed Muslim insurgency spanning decades, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels now face a process which could prove a great challenge: it is time for them to begin to lay down their weapons.

Peace negotiators for the MILF and the Philippine government said on Sunday that they anticipate the first batch of firearms to be removed from service before the end of 2014..

Negotiations between both sides –aimed at threshing out the process of disarmament – began in Malaysia on Saturday.  Disarmament is one of the most crucial aspects in enforcing the peace treaty signed in March.

To oversee the process of laying down the rebel’s firearms, an independent panel consisting of three foreign expert from Brunei, Turkey and Norway; and four local experts who have yet to be appointed.

Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chief government negotiator, said in a statement: “Decommissioning is a delicate and difficult component of any peace settlement. It must be done effectively and sensitively”

On the side of the rebels, Chief MILF negotiator Mohagher Iqbal noted that “decommissioning firearms is really very difficult, but you have to undertake the ultimate sacrifice just to have the Bangsamoro;” he said, as he cited the proposed expanded self-ruling autonomous region in Mindanao.

Iqbal earlier pointed out that 75 assorted firearms would be stored in a warehouse padlocked for security, in line with the process of “normalization” which is intended to integrate the rebels back into mainstream society.

The meeting will continue until Monday, with “the first order of business” having been  the submission  of a list of weapons and rebel fighters by the MILF, Ferrer added.

The peace deal aims to finally bring to an end four decades of armed conflict that has killed tens of thousands on both sides, and has created a volatile situation on the resource-rich island of Mindanao.