Duterte orders gov't agencies to implement Bangsamoro normalization process

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has issued an executive order to efficiently implement the normalization process for former Moro combatants and other vulnerable sectors in the new Bangsamoro region. 

Executive Order No. 79, signed on April 24, creates the Inter-Cabinet Cluster Mechanism on Normalization (ICCMN).

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The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and Office of the Cabinet Secretary (OCS) serve as co-chairpersons. The two offices are ordered to designate representatives with the rank of undersecretary.

The grouping will be composed of representatives (at least assistant secretary in rank) from the following agencies:

Among Duterte's marching orders to the group is for them to implement programs to help improve the quality of life of former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants, their families, and other poverty-stricken and vulnerable sectors in the Bangsamoro region.

MILF combatants are former personnel of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the armed forces of the MILF.

The normalization process will cover 6 MILF camps:

But other areas may be added upon the recommendation of the government and MILF implementing panels.

Security

The normalization process involves ways to address security concerns in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPSTs) will be formed to serve as operating units for the transition process in the normalization program. They will be composed of members of the AFP, PNP, and BIAF.

The Department of National Defense is also ordered to provide training for former MILF combatants who may want to enlist with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), and other reserve geographical auxiliary units in the BARMM.

A program for reducing small arms and light weapons will be developed by the Joint Normalization Committee. The DND wll craft a plan for the redeployment of AFP troops in the BARMM, with the JNC providing the criteria.

Socio-economic development

Duterte ordered the government agencies to "prioritize, intensify, and accelerate" development and rehabilitation efforts in the BARMM.

Specifically, they are to address the needs of BIAF members, internally-displaced persons, and poverty-stricken communities.

Government efforts have to be "community-based, should "reinforce social cohesion, and should "preserve the unity of the communities."

Transitional justice 

The ICCMN is also tasked to "lead the implementation" of the recommendations made by the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission.

These inputs have to do with ways to address the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people, historical injustices, and human rights violations from years of conflict in the area.

A coordinated normalization process is part of the Philippine government's agreement with the MILF reached during the administration of Benigno Aquino III.

A critical part of the agreement was the decommissioning of MILF combatants and weapons. After an initial decommissioning in 2015, the MILF had to decommission 30% of troops and weapons after the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law. 

This would be followed by two more phases: decommissioning of 35% then the last 30%. 

On Monday, the MILF and government implementing panels reaffirmed their commitment to implement the normalization track.

"The Parties affirm their full commitment to work on Normalization for the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and all GPH-MILF peace agreements," the said panels in a joint statement issued from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The two panels met there for the first time after the BOL's ratification and formation of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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