Duterte orders swift implementation of normalization process in Bangsamoro

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order (EO) directing the "immediate" implementation of the normalization program under the Bangsamoro peace pact signed between the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Duterte signed EO 79 on April 24 to fully implement the components of the normalization process and capitalize on existing mechanisms and framework under the Annex on Normalization, according to the principle of coordination between the government and the MILF and consistent with the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

"The National Government recognizes that normalization is a process whereby communities can achieve their desired quality of life within a peaceful and deliberative society," EO 79 reads.

The Annex on Normalization, an integral part of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, provides for a process to ensure human security in the Bangsamoro and enable the communities to achieve the desired quality of life through the pursuit of sustainable livelihood and political participation within a peaceful and deliberative society.

Under EO 79, the national government adopts a normalization program "that is multi-faceted and covers the aspects of security, socio-economic development, sustainable livelihood, political participation, confidence-building, and transitional justice and reconciliation."

The programs under the different components of the normalization program should be implemented for the combatant and non-combatant elements of the MILF, the decommissioned combatants' families, and other vulnerable individuals and sectors residing in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm).

The programs cover recognized MILF camps, particularly Camp Bilal in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur; Camp Omar ibn al-Khattab in Maguindanao; Camp Rajamuda in North Cotabato and Maguinanao; Camp Busrah Somiorang in Lanao del Sur; Camp Badre in Maguindanao; and Camp Abubakar as-Siddique in Maguindanao.

The Joint Normalization Committee (JNC) and the Joint Peace and Security Committee are tasked to ensure effective security collaboration during the implementation of the Bangsamoro agreement's normalization annex.

EO 79 also provides that the MILF forces and weapons need to undergo a verification, validation and decommissioning process that will be conducted by the Independent Decommissioning Body, which is composed of three foreign experts and four local experts.

The National Task Force for the Disbandment of the Private Armed Groups in the Bangsamoro Core Territory and the adjacent Zamboanga Peninsula and Soccsksargen will be in charge of policy, planning and implementation of the program for the disbandment of the private armed groups.

A program for the reduction and management of small arms and light weapons of individuals and groups will be developed by the JNC, in coordination with the military and the police, consistent with the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

The military, through the Defense department, should prepare a redeployment plan of its units and troops from or within the Barmm, consistent with the progress in the other aspects of the normalization program, EO 79 states.

Duterte, through his EO, also formed an Inter-Cabinet Cluster Mechanism on Normalization (ICCMN), to ensure "timely, appropriation and efficient" delivery of the normalization program.

The ICCMN will be chaired by representatives from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the Office of the Cabinet Secretaries, whose rank is not lower than an Undersecretary.

ICCMN members, with ranks not lower than an Assistant Secretary, will come from the National Security Council; and departments of Local Government, Defense, Justice, Social Welfare, Agriculture, Education, Health, Labor, Finance, Budget, Trade, and Information and Communications Technology.

Other members include representatives from the National Economic and Development Authority; Commission on Higher Education; Technical Education and Skills Development Authority; and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

The ICCMN is mandated to coordinate and mobilize relevant government agencies in implementing normalization program, as well as to provide policy advice, further support, and other necessary input or assistance.

It is also directed to supervise and monitor all socio-economic interventions; create a working group on vulnerable sectors; and submit periodic reports on the EO's implementation.

As part of the normalization process, relevant agencies are advised to support the ICCMN in its activities towards demining, as well as mine risk education with assistance from concerned organizations or experts.

"Government agencies are hereby directed to prioritize, intensify and accelerate implementation of development efforts for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and development of the Barmm, and address the needs of the BIAF members, internally displace dpersons, and poverty-stricken communities as part of the normalization process," the EO said.

The ICCMN will cease operation upon the signing of the exit agreement by the national government and the MILF implementing panels or when the normalization program are completely implemented.

The initial funding for EO 79's implementation will be taken from sources that will be identified by the Budget department. Funding requirements for the succeeding years will be included in the respective budgets of ICCMN's member-agencies and other appropriate funding sources.

The Palace released a copy of the EO on Tuesday, April 30. (Ruth Abbey Gita/SunStar Philippines)

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