By Teofilo P. Garcia Jr.
SULTAN KUDARAT, Maguindanao, June 16 (PNA) -– Mohagher Iqbal, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel chief negotiator, declared Tuesday “the decommissioning of our weapons and putting them beyond use” is an affirmation of the MILF’s to the peace process.
Iqbal made this declaration Tuesday when they turned in 75 weapons during the decommissioning of 145 members of the MILF at the gymnasium of the old provincial capitol here.
Fifty of the 75 weapons they turned in to the International Decommissioning Body (IDB) consisted of high-powered rifles and 25 crew-served weapons — mortars, rocket launchers and caliber .50 machineguns.
“This is the start of our preparation for peacetime in the Bangsamoro by taking this serious move of decommissioning. It is a first of the many steps towards the achievement of peace,” Iqbal declared.
“People sometimes commit the mistakes that firearms are our main strength. They are wrong. Firearms are not the source of our main strength,” Iqbal said, citing “our main strength is the love, affection and faith of the Bangsamoro people.”
He said that frankly speaking, the turnover of the weapons and decommissioning of members is the most difficult decisions “we have made so far in more than four decades of harsh struggle.”
He said they have agreed to turn in the weapons and put them beyond use since they “want to show to the world that the MILF will and will always comply with obligations set forth in signed agreements.”
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, along with some of his Cabinet members, congressmen, and local government officials witnessed the turnover of the weapons and decommissioning of 145 MILF members.
The decommissioning is part of the Annex on Normalization of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) the government and the MILF signed last year. (PNA)