Duterte orders gov’t agencies to implement Bangsamoro normalization process

Pia Ranada

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Duterte orders gov’t agencies to implement Bangsamoro normalization process
President Rodrigo Duterte directs national government agencies to 'prioritize, intensify, and accelerate' programs to help former MILF combatants and their families

NEW CHANCE FOR PEACE. Residents of Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao get ready to cast their votes in the Bangsamoro plebiscite held on January 21, 2019. Photo by Bobby Lagsa

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).

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:

  • National Security Council
  • Department of the Interior and Local Government
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Social Welfare and Development
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Labor and Employment
  • Department of Finance
  • Department of Budget and Management
  • Department of Trade and Industry
  • Department of Information and Communications Technology
  • National Economic and Development Authority
  • Commission on Higher Education
  • Technical Education and Skills Development Authority
  • National Commission on Indigenous Peoples

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:

  • Camp Bilal in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur
  • Camp Omar ibn al-Khattab in Maguindanao
  • Camp Rajamuda in North Cotabato in Maguindanao
  • Camp Busrah Somiorang in Lanao del Sur
  • Camp Badre in Maguindanao
  • Camp Abubakar as-Siddique in Maguindanao

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


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

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.