Cops spearhead training of 40,000 ex-MILF fighters

September 04, 2019

THROWING their all-out support behind the normalization process in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao aimed at bringing genuine peace in the South, police are now playing a major role in the training of 40,000 former grizzled fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front who will form part of the Joint Peace and Security Teams in the region, the Journal Group learned yesterday.

PNP chief, General Oscar D. Albayalde and AFP chief of staff, Gen. Benjamin R. Madrigal Jr., have both thrown their full support behind the normalization process and have ordered concerned police and military commanders to help transform the MILF trainees from warriors into BARMM peacekeepers.

Gen. Albayalde particularly instructed his men to join their military counterparts in ‘treating the MILF fighters like their brothers.’

According to Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Secretary Carlito G. Galvez Jr.,  the PNP and the AFP are helping train the ex-MILF combatants who will form part of the 6,000-strong composite Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPSTs) in the region.

This coming Saturday, 225 former members of the MILF-Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) who underwent basic military training in Camp Lucero in Carmen, North Cotabato will be formally presented to President Duterte. The day will also signal the start of the  decommissioning process to transform former MILF  combatants into peaceful and productive members of society and put their weapons beyond use.

JPSTs will provide security in  six government-acknowledged MILF camps in BARMM where MILF forces are undergoing the decommissioning process.

Galvez said the JPSTs are among the groups that would ensure the successful implementation of the Normalization Track, specifically the decommissioning of combatants and the transformation of MILF camps into peaceful, progressive and resilient citizens of the region.

To ensure security in the MILF camps where the decommissioning process will officially begin on Saturday, a total of 200 JPSTs composed of 6,000 personnel will be created.

Galvez said the JPST training is a clear indication of the national government and the MILF’s desire to sustain the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process by fully implementing the Normalization Track.

Last month, more than 200 BIAG rebels, their heads shaved and all wearing identical white t-shirts and navy-blue jogging pants began their basic military training under the tutelage of the JPST.  

“This activity is a testament that the national government, military, police and MILF are united and committed in their desire to bring long-lasting peace in Mindanao,” Galvez said.

Galvez expressed optimism that the successful decommissioning of 40,000 MILF combatants in Mindanao could encourage other armed groups in the Southern Philippines to turn in their weapons and return to the fold of the law.

“We will ensure that the MILF combatants who will undergo the decommissioning process will receive a decent comprehensive and sustainable socio-economic package,” Galvez said.

For this year, at least 30 percent or 12,000 combatants will be decommissioned and their weapons put beyond use. Another 35 percent of the MILF forces will undergo the same procedure next year, while the rest will undergo the process until 2022 in time for the Exit Agreement between the government and the MILF.