Speech of Ambassador Haydar Berk during the Ceremonial Decommissioning Ceremony

Delivered during the Ceremonial Decommissioning Ceremony
at Old Capitol Building in Simuay Junction, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao
By Independent Decommissioning Body Chair Turkey Ambassador Haydar Berk
16 June 2015

As the three foreign members of the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) from Turkey, Norway, and Brunei, we are here upon the invitation of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) to help with the decommissioning of weapons and combatants of the MILF within the framework of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). We also have four local members, two from the Government and two from the MILF. We are Mr. Jan Erik Wilhelmsen from Norway; Major Muhammad Aiman Syazwi bin Haji Abdul Rahim  from Brunei; Retired Lieutenant General Rey Ardo and Dr. Mario Aguja from the GPH; and Mr. Von Al-Haq and Jannati Mimbantas from the MILF.

As the IDB head, I want to thank the governments of Brunei and Norway for their support to the IDB. As chairman, on behalf of the members of the IDB, I would like to underline that we are proud to be part of this historic, courageous peace process. We will perform the important task entrusted to us meticulously and objectively. 

Mr. President, together with Chairman Murad, you are writing history and we want to congratulate both of you. I have no doubt that not only the present generation, but also the next generations in the Philippines will admire your visionary statesmanship as they enjoy peace and stability. The impact of this process is not limited to the Philippines. It will also send strong signals of peace and cooperation to the whole region and beyond. 

They say that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Today, we are realizing the first decommissioning; decommissioning of 75 firearms and 145 combatants. Although it is regarded as a symbolic one, it will be a role model for the subsequent ones. Besides, we are aware of the difficulties of the way to peace. And, despite all these difficulties, I believe this ceremony is a very significant step that demonstrates the sincerity and commitment of the MILF to peace. 

Decommissioning is by no means surrender but a voluntary process in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement and its annexes.  It is an integral part of the overall peace process that should proceed together with the other tracks. Decommissioning has two important aspects: decommissioning of the weapons and decommissioning of the combatants. Today, you see in that area the 75 firearms, fully checked, verified, and validated by the IDB teams. These weapons will be stored in the designated storage area and will be guarded by the IDB teams 24/7.

Yes, decommissioning of the weapons is a very important aspect. But, I believe the second aspect is even more important than the first one. That's the decommissioning of the combatants. These 145 combatants committed that, after this moment, they will be productive civilians. All of them here, they deserve from us every support and encouragement to establish a normal civilian life with their families.

Yes, I refer to economic programs. But apart from it, as a normal, civilian citizen, their safety and security, their rights under the Constitution of the Philippines should also be ensured.    

In concluding, I would like to express my thanks and appreciation, again, for the trust and cooperation; and indeed for the traditional hospitality of the Philippines extended to us by both the government and the MILF. 

We strongly hope that the parliament will pass the BBL in accordance with the agreements and we will be dealing with the next major decommissioning operation soon. 

Thank you.