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The Philippines Increases Efforts To Disband Private Armies

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Open Eyes Opinion {source: PHgov}

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Palace activates task force to disband private armies in Bangsamoro

 

 

 

 

 

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From the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

The newly released Memorandum Circular No. 83 creates a task force that focuses on disbanding private armies in the Bangsamoro territory and its adjacent regions. 

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The Office of the President (OP) released Memorandum Circular No. 83 entitled “Creating the National Task Force for the Disbandment of the Private Armed Groups (NTF-DPAGs) in the Areas of the Proposed Bangsamoro and the Adjacent Regions IX to XII.”

“There is a need for the creation of the National Task Force that would focus on disbanding the Private Army Groups (PAGs) in the proposed Bangsamoro core territory and adjacent regions in order to stabilize the security situation,” the memo read.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace accord signed by the government with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014, provides for a comprehensive approach toward achieving security and peace in the proposed autonomous region. The disbandment of the PAGs, together with the gradual and phased decommissioning of MILF weapons and combatants, are part of the bigger normalization process under the accord.

The normalization process has not been included in the original draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the legal iteration of the said agreement, due to it being part of the mandate of the executive branch, meaning the normalization process does not require additional legislation.

Moreover, Section 24, Article XVIII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution already mandates the dismantling of private armies and other armed groups not recognized by duly constituted authorities of the country.

The memo also touched on the urgency to disband PAGs in the Bangsamoro as “the major causes which primarily contribute to its proliferation such as very low level of human security, gun culture, ‘rido’ or clan war, political dynasties and the use of military and police auxiliaries still exist in some affected communities.”

“The NTF-DPAGs shall be in charge of policy, planning and implementation of the program for the disbandment of the PAGs including coordination with the relevant bodies pursuant to the CAB and other entities as may be necessary in accordance with the schedule provided in the Annex on Normalization,” continued the memo.

Administrative matters

The NTF-DPAGs will be chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) with representatives from other government agencies such as the Department of National Defense (DND); the Department of Justice (DOJ); the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA); the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI); and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC).

Both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are heavily represented in the task force with the following also sitting as members: PNP Director for Intelligence; PNP Director for Operations; PNP regional directors in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and from Region IX to XII; PNP Focal Team Head for the Peace Process; AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence; AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations; AFP Peace Process Office Chief and the Commander of the AFP Western Mindanao Command (WESTMINCOM).

The chair of the Government of the Philippines Negotiating Panel for Talks with the MILF, currently held by Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, will also sit as member while the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) will help develop a monitoring and reporting system to “determine the development and level of achievements of the activities designed for the dismantling of the PAGs.”

The memo also stipulated that the task force would begin immediately and that it would only cease to operate until it had determined that the PAGs had already been dismantled or the GPH and the MILF had signed an Exit Agreement, whichever comes earlier.

The CAB stipulates that the signing of an exit agreement by the GPH and the MILF will signal the termination of the peace process and that it will only be signed if and only when all agreements have been implemented.

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[Photo Credits-featured image: “Army.mil-2008-02-21-124604” by Lance Cpl. Kevin M. Knallay – http://www.army.mil/-images/2008/02/21/12940/. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Army.mil-2008-02-21-124604.jpg#/media/File:Army.mil-2008-02-21-124604.jpg]

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