MAGUINDANAO, June 19 (PNA) — Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT) Chair Alistair McDonald declared the first phase of the decommissioning process of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants and weapons as a concrete act which proves that the Bangsamoro peace process is working.
McDonald, who heads the independent body tasked to monitor, review and assess the implementation of all signed agreements between the government and the MILF, said that he is hopeful that this initial phase of decommissioning will accelerate the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which serves as the foundation for the realization of all other milestones in the roadmap towards the creation of the Bangsamoro, including the succeeding phases in decommissioning and other components of the normalization process.
“[This event is] gigantically important for Mindanao. Also an opportunity because this will mean that for the first time we have a concrete act which proves that [the] peace process is working. [This is] very helpful in moving the process forward, in helping [push] the momentum of the process,” McDonald said.
“I very much hope this will also serve as a symbol of encouragement for the national legislators to carry forward their work on the (Bangsamoro) Basic Law,” McDonald added.
McDonald, a former ambassador of the European Union to the Philippines, also expressed enthusiasm that the decades-long armed conflict will finally see its end and that combatants will get to enjoy their to return to normal, civilian lives.
“I can’t exaggerate just how important this day was not only for the government but also for the former MILF combatants who from today will be able to return to normal life,” he stressed.
The decommissioning of MILF forces and weapons is part of the security component of the normalization process under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The Annex on Normalization, which is part of the peace pact, aims to return conflict-affected communities to peaceful lives and has two other components — socioeconomic development and transitional justice and reconciliation. (PNA)