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Almost 2,000 MILF combatants successfully decommissioned in 1st quarter of 2022

SULTAN KUDARAT, Maguindanao -- “Nagpapasalamat ako sa Allahu’ta’Allah dahil nakaabot pa tayo sa ngayong panahon na nakasama pa tayo sa bunga ng jihad (struggle), Alhamdulillah. Gagamitin namin ito sa pagtulong sa paghahanapbuhay at sa pag-aaral ng aming mga apo.” (I am thankful to Allahu’ta’Allah because we have reached this time and we are still here to be part of the result of jihad (struggle), Alhamdulillah. We will use this to help in our livelihood and in our grandchildren's education.)

This was shared by Rowaida Taha, a former member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Women's Auxiliary Brigade (BIWAB) from Rajah Buayan, Maguindanao, after undergoing the decommissioning process and receiving a transitional cash assistance amounting to P100,000.00. The cash assistance is part of the socioeconomic package the decommissioned combatants receive through the Task Force for Decommissioned Combatants and Their Communities (TFDCC).

Of this amount given to all decommissioned combatants, P80,000.00 is under the Bangsamoro Transitory Family Support (BTFS) Package which they can use for their basic needs such as food, hygiene kits, sleeping materials, kitchen and shelter kits, as well as medical, educational, and transportation needs; while the PhP20,000.00 under the Livelihood Settlement Grant (LSG) may be used as seed capital to start a micro-enterprise or to purchase starter kits for the establishment of livelihood projects.

Taha is among the 1,950 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants who were successfully decommissioned during the third phase of the decommissioning process held from February 15 to March 1 of this year.

Another 5,250 MILF combatants also under the third phase were decommissioned from November to December last year.

To date, 19,345 MILF combatants have already been decommissioned under Phases 1, 2, and the first part of Phase 3, which were held in 2015, 2019-2020, and 2021-2022, respectively.

To ensure adherence to strict health protocols, all MILF combatants scheduled for decommissioning were subjected to pre-health screening and antigen COVID-19 testing before proceeding to the assembly and processing area (APA) site where they were officially processed for decommissioning.

They also underwent a needs assessment conducted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in partnership with the TFDCC.

According to DSWD social worker Norhata Benito, program focal of the agency’s Normalization Program, the conduct of the needs assessment and validation process is important in identifying socioeconomic interventions tailored fit for the needs of each DC, their families, and their communities.

"When we do home visitations, it's not only for DCs but also for their families and communities so we are very much sure that the suggested services that they will avail ay talagang naka-align sa pangangailangan ng combatant, pamilya nya at kanyang komunidad," Benito said.

She said that through the on-site validation process after the decommissioned combatants are assessed at the APA site, they are referred to the concerned government agencies so they can be given the appropriate interventions and services.

Benito said these initiatives include, among others, programs on health, technical and livelihood which aim to uplift the well-being of the former combatants.

The third phase of the decommissioning process is set to be completed within the year, in which 14,000 MILF combatants are scheduled to be decommissioned.

The decommissioning process is among the key provisions of the Annex on Normalization of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the peace agreement forged between the government and MILF in 2014, which aims to help former MILF-BIAF combatants make the successful transition as peaceful and productive civilians. (OPAPRU)

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Kate Shiene Austria

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Information Officer III under the Creative Production Services Division of the Philippine Information Agency. 

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