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Government, Moro group in the process of decommissioning combatants.

Manila: Joint teams of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government are in the process of decommissioning combatants, officials said.

Mohagher Iqbal, MILF lead peace negotiator who is in talks with the Philippine government, said to Gulf News that a Joint Peace and Security Team (JPST) has already been deployed to a certain areas in Mindanao and started working on the decommissioning aspect of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

"The JPST have already started with their work," Iqbal said in a text message on Sunday.

On Saturday, both sides said that they have already formed and trained the first JPST, which will carry out the decommissioning process.

According to MILF Joint Normalisation Committee (JNC) head secretariat Toks Ebrahim, the formation of the first JPST was concrete proof of the gains of the peace negotiations between the government and the Moro rebels.

"The training was successful despite the differences between the participants," he was quoted as saying in a report published in the Moro's Luwaran website.

The CAB is a vital aspect of the peace process and involves the turnover of some of the weapons used by the Moro group and its armed component, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, to a third party, the Independent Decommissioning Body, which includes representatives from Turkey, Norway and Brunei.

The JPST has many tasks including helping reduce the number of weapons in the planned Bangsamoro territories, supporting the observance of the ceasefire agreement, and supporting dispute resolution initiatives in the area.

Another important task given to the JPST is the tracking and documentation of private armed groups operating the planned Bangsamoro region, which includes Central Mindanao and parts of Western Mindanao.

Iqbal says they expect this particular aspect of demobilisation to be strongly opposed by armed groups -- which include those maintained by politicians -- because it is against their interests.

"Some [politicians] will oppose this although they would do this covertly," he said.

The JPST is part of a larger normalisation initiative that aims to build a Bangsamoro or a Moro nation that is committed to basic human rights, where individuals are free from fear of violence or crime and where long-held traditions and values continue to be honoured.

The conflict between the government forces and the Moro rebels has resulted in the deaths of more than 150,000 combatants and civilians over nearly three decades.

The Senate is working on crafting a broad-based Bangsamoro Basic Law that will govern Moro areas and provide Moros with enhanced autonomy and replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jun 8, 2015
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