BBL, decommissioning process inseparable – solon

BATASAN – A member of the House of Representatives stressed today that the process of the decommissioning of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) weapons and forces goes together with the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), part of which is the passage and popular ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Sulu Rep. Tupay Loong said that while these are two different processes, the decommissioning process is inexorably tied to the progress of the BBL in Congress.
“Yung sinasabi ng iba dyan na ‘wag ikabit sa BBL ang decommissioning, e ‘yung BBL kaya ang simula para gumalaw ang mga susunod na phases ng decommissioning,” Loong explained.

“These are two different processes, but naturally the progress in decommissioning depends on the progress of the BBL. That is the nature of peace talks,” Loong pointed out.

“Imagine, by the passage of the BBL, 30% of MILF arms and forces will be decommissioned,” Loong added. “Marami yun ah! At totoong simula yun ng pagtapos ng deka-dekadang g’yera sa Mindanao.”

“What more proof of sincerity are we asking? Isn’t that what they showed us already when they started the decommissioning process?” Loong said.

The decommissioning process formally began with the ceremonial turnover of 75 crew-serve and high-powered weapons and the decommissioning of 145 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) last June 16.

The Comprehensive Agreement stipulates that 30% of MILF combatants and weapons will be decommissioned upon the passage of the BBL, to be followed by another 35% after the plebiscite and the appointment of members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA). The remaining 35% will be decommissioned once the Bangsamoro government is established and its leaders are duly elected.

“They voluntarily did this despite the fact that the BBL is not yet enacted by Congress, precisely because this is what they agreed to,” Loong said.

“There are still other armed groups on the ground that could pose security threats to these former combatants,” Loong said. “But they were willing to undergo what the MILF said is its ‘ultimate sacrifice,’ all for the sake of peace in Mindanao.”

“Let us put ourselves in their shoes and try to understand how emotional this issue is. As a former combatant I can assure you that this is not an easy thing to do,” Loong, a former commander of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), added.

“Alam nyo, ito pa nga ang unang pagkakataon na ang isang rebedeng grupo sa Mindanao ay boluntaryong nag-turnover ng kanilang armas sa ngalan ng peace process,” he noted.

“Ito ay patunay ng sinseridad at ng tiwala ng MILF sa prosesong ito. ‘Wag sana natin sayangin yon,” he appealed. ###