The decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to push through with the ceremonial decommissioning of guns and combatants in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao—just hours after an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded in front of a public market in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, injuring seven—”reflects the government’s commitment to end decades of conflict in Mindanao in order to bring peace and stability to the region.”

This was according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who on Saturday stressed that the Duterte administration recognizes the need to push forward normalization plans in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) despite the possible hurdles the program may face. 

“On the contrary, the blast is a reminder of why we must exhaust all efforts to ensure that future generations are spared from the conflict.”

“As the first Chief Executive from Mindanao, President Duterte recognizes the necessity and urgency of forging a just and lasting peace with our Muslim brothers and sisters,” said Nograles, who together with Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. accompanied the President at the ceremonial weapons decommissioning activity in Sultan Kudarat. 

Seven people were reportedly injured following the explosion in the area fronting the Isulan Public Market at 7 a.m on Saturday.

“We expect to encounter challenges on the road to peace, but this morning’s criminal act will not deter us from moving forward,” said the Palace executive. 

“On the contrary, the blast this morning is a reminder of why we must exhaust all efforts to ensure that future generations are spared from the conflict and violence that has plagued Mindanao in the past,” added the Davao native. 

“We hope that our partners in peace will remain steadfast in their commitment to the peace and normalization process.”

“We pray for a speedy recovery for those hurt in the blast and we hope that our partners in peace will remain steadfast in their commitment to the peace and normalization process.”

According to Nograles, who co-chairs the Inter-Cabinet Cluster Cluster Mechanism (ICCMN) on Normalization with Galvez, the government will continue to fast-track normalization efforts together with the decommissioning of 12,000 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) troops, or close to a third of MILF combatants, which is expected to be completed by March next year. 

The 12,000 combatants and their families are set to receive between P500,000 to P1 million in financial assistance on top of provisions for housing, livelihood assistance, skills development training, scholarships, employment opportunities, PhilHealth coverage, conditional cash transfers, and documentation such as birth certificates and postal IDs.

Government is now in phase two of the decommissioning of MILF forces, with phase three to be completed by next year and the remaining MILF forces to be decommissioned before the signing of the Exit Agreement in 2022. 


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