Exposed: MILF’S disarming a farce

by Rigoberto Tiglao on February 19, 2015

Second of Two Parts

In one of the hearings on the Mamasapano massacre of 44 police commandos, President Aquino’s chief negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Teresita Deles, said that under their “peace” agreement, the Muslim insurgents will be disarmed—“decommissioned” was the term they used—by 2016.

In the first place, the Aquino government’s acceptance of the term “decommissioning” itself is a capitulation to the insurgents’ position that they have a legitimate right to arms, which they really don’t, under our laws.

Whatever term they use though, Deles was lying through her teeth when she gave a date for the MILF’s disarming.

Nowhere in the agreements signed with the MILF, including the latest one (titled “Protocol on the Implementation of the Terms of Reference of the Independent Decommissioning Body”) is there such a date specified.

To fool us, the Protocol merely describes “Four Phases” for the “decommissioning.” It says 30 percent of the arms will be decommissioned in Phase 2. And then a further 35 percent in Phase 3. The remaining 35 percent will be decommissioned in Phase 4.

The Protocol document itself doesn’t even explain what or when these phases are to take place.

One will have to do a bit of research to learn what these phases are.

Will he teach her to surrender the rifle? Photo from Facebook Account “BIAF-MILF 105th Base Command

Will he teach her to surrender the rifle? Photo from Facebook Account “BIAF-MILF 105th Base Command

And the description turns out to be in a two-paged outline in matrix form, entitled “Program for Normalization in the Bangsamoro,” which is “an attachment to the Annex on Normalization,” signed Jan 25, 2014.

Can you believe that? The most crucial part of the pact with the MILF, its disarming, is described only in an attachment to an annex?There, we find out that Phase 1 involves mainly the MILF submitting a list of its weapons, which the peace document describes as “validation of MILF forces.”

There is no provision at all in this document or in any of the “peace” documents that allows the government to question whether such lists of weapons actually represent the MILF’s total arsenal.

The insurgents can put on that list all of their grandfathers’ World War II M4 Carbine rifles and the government can’t question that.

They can claim they have only 750 arms, and the government can’t question that. In fact, a portent of what could happen is that the decommissioning program scheduled to start this month would involve the surrender of 75 firearms. Will the MILF later claim that’s 10 percent, which means the total number of its arms is 750?

Even if the MILF discloses in all honesty the number of arms it owns, the Protocol specifies that the first 30 percent of those will be “decommissioned” only in Phase 2.

And when is Phase 2? To quote verbatim its description in the “Program for Normalization:” “Completion of validation of MILF forces up to the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.”

As I’ve written in past columns: “Have our negotiators gone mad?

The agreement means that the initial 30 percent of the MILF’s arms will be decommissioned only after the BBL is signed and ratified!

That means disarming will start only when the establishment of their nation-state becomes fait accompli, when the BBL is not only passed by Congress, but after it is ratified by a majority vote in a plebiscite of provinces and cities that will be part of the Bangsamoro territory.

The MILF sets up its nation-state first, or makes it a nearly irreversible commitment by the government, which it practically is after the plebiscite, before the insurgents decommission 30 percent of their arms.

What kind of a peace treaty is this, in which we give the insurgents first what they want, their own state, and only after they surrender just some of their arms, and we’re not even sure how much those arms represent in proportion to their total arsenal.

A further 35 percent of the MILF’s arms purportedly will be decommissioned in Phase 3, which is the period from the ratification of the BBL up to the “establishment and operationalization of the police force for the Bangsmoro.”

The reference to the establishment of the Bangsamoro Police as a marker for Phase 3 reveals the MILF’s real hidden plan.

New, armed force
When the MILF “decommissions” 65 percent of its arms, and pretends to disarm its Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, it will actually have a new, armed force under its command, called the Bangsamoro Police, this time made legitimate by an act of Congress—the BBL.

Can the MILF just turn over its arms—including its 50-calibre Barrett sniper rifles—to the Bangsamoro Police, so as to save on Bangsamoro’s budget? There is no provision in any of the pacts preventing that.

When is Phase 4 – when the remaining MILF are to be decommissioned according to the Program on Normalization – supposed to happen?

It will be two months before the signing of the “Exit Agreement,” that is, when the MILF is satisfied that all of Aquino’s promises to it, among which is the establishment of the Bangsamoro’s own nation-state, with an “asymmetrical relationship with the central government” as the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro formulated it, and the organization of its own police force.

However, the MILF has managed to have an agreement with government that allows it a Plan B.

Nowhere in the agreements is there a provision that the MILF’s military arm, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, will be dissolved. Yes, its combatants are supposed to decommission their arms, but the BIAF will not be dismantled. Will it be the next name of the “Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters”?

I can’t believe how much the MILF has fooled Aquino’s negotiators. Even assuming there will be a real disarming of MILF arms, and not just its old rifles, how will this be undertaken?

Will the arms be surrendered to the government, and secured in the Republic’s military camps as is done in all peace pacts?

No. These will be stored in “Secure Arms Storage Areas”, the location of which will be determined by the International Decommissioning Body (IDB), consisting of three foreign experts nominated by Turkey, Norway and Brunei Darussalam, and four nominated by government and the MILF. There are no criteria in the Protocol where these should be located.

Is there a provision that would prohibit the location of these storage areas in an MILF camp or in an MILF-controlled territory like Mamasapano in Maguindanao, near the lair of the MILF 105th Base Command that massacred 44 SAF troopers? None.

Deles, in fact, in one of the hearings claimed she was late because they were “scouting for storage arms areas in Lanao del Sur, near (MILF) Camp Busra.”

Is there a provision designating an independent armed force like a UN military unit to secure the storage areas? None.

The IDB does not even have a military arm to secure the storage facilities.

There is no provision in the Protocol that the Republic’s armed forces will assist the so-called Joint Peace and Security Committee that will guard the arms storage facility. In fact nowhere in the Protocol is a mention of any role of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Philippine National Police in the process of the purported disarming of MILF troops and the storage of their arms.

So how will MILF’s “decommissioned” arms be secured?

The Protocol on Commissioning explains: “The secured arms storage area will be secured … with a fence, including a gate with a lock. A single lock provided by the IDB will secure the storage… A 24-hour surveillance camera provided by the IDB will cover the storage site and will be monitored form the IDB office.”


Aquino’s negotiators lying on MILF’s ‘disarming’

by Rigoberto Tiglao on February 17, 2015

First of Two Parts

Timed as if to throw cold water on the national outrage over the January 25 massacre of the Fallen 44 Special Action Force troopers, President Benigno Aquino’s negotiators and those of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed two days later—where else, in Malaysia—what they claim is the process, technically called the “Decommissioning Protocol,” for the insurgents purportedly to surrender their arms.

Chief Peace Adviser Teresita Deles swooned over the pact’s signing, claiming that it would result in the MILF’s disarmament by 2016, when her boss steps down. The Islamic group’s negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said the decommissioning is “a sacrifice” on the part of the MILF.

The propaganda line these people are trying hard to make us swallow: Forget the massacre, the MILF are already turning over their arms. If the Congress doesn’t pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the MILF won’t disarm and will aim their arms at you.

They are lying, or fooling themselves, and are even striving to make their lies appear to be truth. Or maybe they have become so gullible as indicated by their delusion that the MILF “peace” pact will win for them the Nobel Peace Prize. After all, haven’t Deles and chief negotiator Miriam Ferrer already boasted in their curricula vitae that they’ve been nominated for the peace prize?

Not a single person who has lived in Mindanao, especially close to the Muslim communities, believes that a Moro will ever voluntarily surrender his arms.

Contrary to the idea that the Moros simply spontaneously rose up in arms against Marcos when he declared martial law in 1972, it was his order for all Filipinos, regardless of whether they were Ilocos warlords or Muslims, to surrender their arms or be imprisoned that sparked the rebellion, first in Jolo City by Muslim policemen, which the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) would later feed on.

Veteran columnist Emil Jurado – who has “seen it all” in this era – in a recent column wrote: “Those who know the culture and history of the Muslims can only raise their eyebrows since totally disarmed Muslim clans will be at the mercy of others with firearms. Remember the joke which goes that a Muslim would rather sleep with his gun than with his wife?”

An MILF insurgent with a 50-caliber Barrett sniper rifle, reportedly costing P500,000 each. Would he really give it up?

An MILF insurgent with a 50-caliber Barrett sniper rifle, reportedly costing P500,000 each. Would he really give it up?

“But it’s a miracle, and because P-Noy is a saint,” I can imagine Deles arguing, her voice breaking and her eyes misty.

From her recent statements at the Senate hearing and in her very revealing conversation with Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. claiming that the MILF was faultless in the massacre of the police commandos, Deles may have contracted a variation of the “Stockholm syndrome.”

This is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages identify with the worldviews of their captors. In Deles’ case, having spent nearly a decade talking with the MILF, she has identified with the worldview of the MILF, and is now unable to see through the insurgents’ subterfuge.

Nowhere in the latest pact signed, and in all past agreements, are there provisions that the MILF’s arms must be surrendered to the government, but only to an “International Decommissioning Body,” to be stored in “Secure Arms Storage Areas.” These are located not in the Republic’s military camps, but could even be in some part of Mamasapano or near the MILF’s main Camp Darapanan.

Under the agreements, the MILF’s mujahideens will simply change the patches on their uniform from “Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces” to “Bangsamoro Police,” which is under the command of the substate’s Chief Minister, who I would bet would be MILF chairman Murad. And just in case that doesn’t work out, there is even nowhere in the pacts signed with the MILF that its military, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, will be disbanded and dissolved.

The Free Aceh Movement was a Muslim insurgency that struck a peace pact with the Indonesian government in 2005. It had at most 5,000 arms and there were estimates that the December 2004 tsunami actually decimated their ranks to 3,000.

How many arms did the GAM (the Free Aceh Movement’s acronym in Indonesian) surrender to kick off its decommissioning in 2005? 850.

How many arms will the MILF —estimated by various sources to have 30,000 to as many as 50,000 rifles—have to surrender, according to the “Decommissioning Protocol”? 75.

Did our negotiators put in any pact even the most conservative estimate of the number of MILF arms, so there would be at least some benchmark, that in the future we can argue that they haven’t even surrendered a tenth of their rifles?

No. In President Fidel Ramos’ final peace settlement with the MNLF, there was an implicit number of firearms that the insurgent group admitted it had: 7,250. This was the number of MNLF fighters that was written in the agreement itself who would be integrated into the Republic’s police and armed forces.

The MILF could later even claim that the 75 arms they surrendered made up 10 percent of their arsenal, which would be 750 rifles, and we wouldn’t have anything in the written agreements to contest that.

Supposedly scheduled this month, that “surrender” of arms will be a show, a charade, but will certainly hog headlines with huge photos in Aquino’s favorite newspaper.

On Friday: Other details on how the MILF fooled Aquino and Deles on its disarming.

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