MANILA- Senate President Franklin Drilon on Monday said the decommissioning process will go a long away in restoring the public’s confidence and trust in the Mindanao peace process.
Drilon said the decommissioning will also help in driving support for the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
“This is a major development. It is a very important confidence building step, because the sincerity of both sides will be tested,” said Drilon at the Kapihan sa Diamond Hotel media forum on Monday.
Drilon said the start of the decommissioning by the MILF on June 16 will be a welcome display of the rebel group’s sincerity, and will help build up public confidence to the Mindanao peace process months after the Mamasapano incident.
“The most difficult unwritten aspect of the Bangsamoro is the lack of trust, and this is not a monopoly of the country,” he noted.
Drilon, who had once served as an advisor for the government’s peace talks with the National Democratic Front, explained that “in peace processes around the world, the most critical aspect is how to build confidence and how to bring back peace. The Mindanao process is no exemption.”
“It is only in confidence building measure that we are able to build building blocks for the ultimate peace, prosperity and security in that part of our country,” he then stressed.
According to Drilon, while the MILF’s decommissioning is not a be-all and end-all in putting a complete halt to all armed violence in Mindanao, the move is a significant development in achieving peace in Mindanao.
“This is not the single bullet that can bring peace, but it can go a long way,” he said.
The first phase of the MILF’s decommissioning process will begin with the ceremonial turnover of 55 high-powered firearms and 20 crew-served weapons, and the decommissioning – meaning the return to civilian life – of 145 members of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces.
According to the chief negotiators from both the Philippine government and the MILF, the decommissioning is meant as a step towards lasting peace in a region of the country affected by insurgency since 1969.
Meanwhile, Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. said the decommissioning is a good start to regain the trust of the MILF.
”It’s good that we get started. I’m not saying that we should not do it but it’s a very small start. And in terms of true material substantial reduction in firepower of the MILF, it’s really not meaningful,” Marcos said.
Marcos said the 75 firearms and weapons are very small fraction of the estimated 15,000 firearms of the MILF.
”In terms of confidence building, as I said, it’s a small step. It’s not a major step,” Marcos said.
Marcos is the chairman of the Senate committee on local government which conducted 15 hearings on the BBL. PNA