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Group says decommissioning of MILF weapons 'negligible, not enough'.

The decommissioning of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) weapons is 'not enough' to combat the cases of violence in the Muslim Mindanao region, peace building organization International Alert Philippines said Tuesday.

'We applaud the plan to retire weapons that are supposedly in the hands of MILF combatants. What we are saying is it is not enough and it should not lead to expectations that it is going to resolve in a major deceleration in attacks that are related to firearms. It won't,' Francisco Lara, Senior Peace and Conflict Adviser of Alert Philippines said in a press briefing in Taguig City.

The decommissioning of the weapons came after the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) which will establish broader autonomy for Muslims in Mindanao.

While this move is deemed important to promote peace in the region, Lara said the effect of decommissioning is 'negligible', explaining that the decommission agreement only covers weapons owned by the group and not by the combatants themselves.

'We all know that right now the declaration has been there are two types of weapons-one is those that are owned by the members and those owned by the organization. The agreement is to decommission those weapons that are owned by the organization and not the members,' Lara said.

'That is quite explanatory on the amount of weapons that will remain in the hands of combatants even after this process. That's the reason why we do not think there's going to be any impact at all,' he added.

Further, Lara said that more problems lie if the weapons owned by the general public is also considered.

Nikki de la Rosa, International Alert country manager, said that policies concerning the proliferation of weapons and regulation carrying of weapons have to be reviewed, especially once martial law in the said region, is lifted.

'Effectively, it's martial law that has been able to curb the proliferation of illicit weapons, at least in terms of the evidence that we saw in our database,' De la Rosa said.

Policies such as Republic Act 10591, or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, De la Rosa said, needs to be reviewed to curb gun violence not only in the region but also in the country.

'RA 10591 has been passed by Aquino during his presidency but there has been no review of that law,' De la Rosa said.

'It allows individuals to carry at most 15 semi-automatic weapons and that has implications to the decommission process because if I were a combatant, why would I decommission my guns if I go back to my community that is heavily armed?' she added.

The discussion was a part of the presentation of the report of Conflict Alert, a subnational conflict monitoring system developed by International Alert Philippines, which tracks incidents of violence in the former Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

While there was a decline in violent incidences in the Muslim Mindanao region, which the report heavily attributed to the imposition of martial law there, it explained that decommissioning of combatants and weapons 'will not weaken armed challenges to the State from rival holders of the means of coercion.'

'The narrative that the decommissioning project will contribute significantly to a further reduction in violence is flawed and is ignorant of the multi-causal nature of violent conflict and the conflict strings that can be unleashed by revenge killings and clan feuding,' it added.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Sep 3, 2019
Words:649
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