From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 31): ‘Ratify Bangsamoro law first before we decommission forces,’ says MILF commander
PIKIT, North Cotabato – A seasoned commander of one of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) biggest units has assured that they were ready to be decommissioned once the Bangsamoro law is ratified, and all other remaining agreements are implemented.
“As long as the Bangsamoro law would be ratified, no problem, we are ready to be decommissioned,” Jack Abbas, chief of the MILF’s Eastern Mindanao Command, told The Manila Bulletin in an interview at his headquarters here.
Under the agreement, 30 percent of the MILF’s armed wing Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) would be decommissioned after the ratification of the Organic Law on the Bangsamoro for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM).
Another 35 percent of the forces and weapons will also be decommissioned after the operationalization of the Bangsamoro police, and the remaining 35 percent after the implementation of all signed agreements.
“I hope that the Bangsamoro police would be realized so that the full decommissioning would be realized as well,” the 65-year old MILF commander added.
The MILF leadership says the OLBARMM was 85 percent compliant to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
Abbas believes that Bangsamoro Transition Commission-proposed provisions on Bangsamoro police was among those in the CAB that were not included in the approved law.
But for MILF Information Committee chair Mohagher Iqbal said that while they were not able to attain that, the MILF would just have to adapt to the provisions stated in the law.
“Pero kahit papano, yung nailagay dyan sa batas na yan, kung magamit natin ng husto palagay ko, mapakinabangan natin yan. Pag usapan natin yan,” Iqbal said referring to the Bangsamoro police provisions in a recent gathering.
Abbas said the MILF’s Eastern Mindanao Command extends from North Cotabato all the way to Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental provinces.
Though he did not disclose the actual number of forces under his unit, Manila Bulletin sources disclosed that Abbas commands at least 6,000 BIAF regulars across Eastern Mindanao.
The Eastern Mindanao Command’s headquarters is situated in the sprawling Camp Rajamuda in this town. But its operational territory spreads across its neighboring towns in Maguindanao province.
Camp Rajamuda, which is said to be the third largest MILF camp, had been a target of military campaigns in 1997, 2000 and 2003.