225 former Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters start training as peacekeepers

A total of 225 former fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) started their basic military training as members of a Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPSTs) on August 2 at Camp Lucero, Carmen, North Cotabato.

OPAPP photo

“Many years ago, this type of event was simply unimaginable,” said Abdulraof Macacua, minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s (BARMM) Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy during the ceremonial kick off of the JPST training.

“No one ever thought that the MILF would ever be in a military camp such as Camp Lucero to undertake military training – and with soldiers at that,” Macacua said.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said under the Normalization Track of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the decommissioning process aims to transform former combatants of the MILF into peaceful and productive members of society and put their weapons beyond use.

“JPSTs will function as peacekeeping forces that will be deployed to ensure the security of residents within the six government-acknowledged MILF camps during the decommissioning process which officially begins on September 7,” OPAPP said.

The JPSTs are composed of members of the MILF-BIAF, AFP and Philippine National Police. Two hundred teams will be created with a total of 6,000 personnel. These teams will carry out their duties until the Exit Agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the MILF is signed in 2022.

Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Secretary Carlito G Galvez Jr said the JPST training is a clear indication of the national government and the MILF’s desire to sustain the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process by fully implementing the Normalization Track.

“This activity is a testament that the national government, military, police and MILF are united and committed in their desire to bring long-lasting peace [in Mindanao],” Galvez said. “All of us can be sure that the AFP and the PNP to help transform the trainees as partners of peace.”

“More importantly, this exercise is another way of further strengthening the mutual trust of both parties (GPH and MILF) in the peace process. At this stage in our relationship, we are no longer peace stakeholders but peace partners,” Galvez added.