GPH,MILF peace panels sign TOR of decommissioning body

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews) – The peace panels of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed the Terms of Reference of the Independent Decommissioning Body during their special meeting Thursday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The TOR defines decommissioning as “the process of putting the weapons of the MILF beyond use and the process of allowing a smooth transition for MILF combatants to productive civilian life which shall be parallel and commensurate with the redeployment of AFP and dismantling of Private Armed Groups (PAGs) and other aspects of the peace agreements.”

Decommissioning is part of the Annex on Normalization to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed on March 27 last year.

The signing came amid uncertainties on the fate of the Bangsamoro Basic Law brought by popular outrage over the death of 44 members of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police in a clash Sunday with rebel groups in Maguindanao.

“The Parties opened the meeting by expressing deep sympathy and grief for the loss of lives in the early morning of January 25, 2015 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao,” according to a joint statement signed by GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal.

“In accordance with the statements made by President Aquino and Chair Murad in relation to this tragic incident, the Parties reaffirmed their commitment to the attainment of peace that has long eluded Mindanao. In this vein, they resolved to strengthen their cooperation and coordination in addressing security concerns in the most effective and appropriate manner, and also in rebuilding trust and public confidence in the peace process,” the statement said.

Both parties expressed support to the conduct of investigations by the government’s board of inquiry and the MILF’s Special Investigative Commission.

They also renewed the mandate of the International Monitoring Team for another year until March 2016.

In a statement Thursday, the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy said it welcomes the investigations to be made by both parties on the incident.

The PCID however called for an “impartial inquiry to be conducted by an independent body represented by key sectors and stakeholders, comprised of persons of unquestionable probity and integrity, with established records for advocating peace and development in Mindanao.”

It likewise urged MILF leaders “to cooperate in the investigation, and to submit to the findings.”

“Let the chips fall where they may. If trust and confidence is to be strengthened, there must be an unequivocal commitment to the rule of law by all,” the group added.

The PCID further called for sobriety and urged officials to exercise prudence in their statements.

“We believe the peace process cannot and should not be held hostage by the Mamasapano incident, tragic though it may be.  Incendiary statements are reckless and serve no purpose but to unnecessarily fan the flames in an extremely tense environment,” it said.

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