From rebels to peacekeepers

August 28, 2019

A TOTAL of 219 former combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Tuesday completed their 26-day basic military training in a military camp in North Cotabato which will qualify them to serve as peacekeepers in the region.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Police Regional Office director Brig. Gen. Marni Marcos Jr. said he considers the former MILF combatants as comrades as he formally presented them to the public.

“The product of our strength, sympathy, and collective efforts is now about to be realized. The stability in the Bangsamoro cannot be achieved by force…we are happy to work with our brothers from the BIAF (Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces) together with our military counterparts,” Marcos said.

Marcos also acknowledged  the efforts of President Duterte in putting an end to armed conflict in Bangsamoro communities. “Let us continue our commitments, strengthen our initiatives and the paradigm in waging peace in the BARMM,” he said.

Aside from securing MILF communities that will undergo the decommission process, the former rebels will also help track and document private armed groups and other lawless elements, as well as “reduce and control” the proliferation of undocumented firearms in the concerned areas.

Moreover, they are expected to help enforce the existing ceasefire agreement between the government and MILF, and prevent the outbreak of hostilities.

The training is a requirement for the former combatants to become part of the composite Joint Peace and Security Team (JPST), said Presidential Adviser on Peace Process, retired Army General Carlito Galvez Jr.

The official said that the graduates will form the 6,000-strong JPST contingent that will be composed of 3,000 MILF, 1,600 Philippine National Police personnel and 1,400 members of the Armed Forces.