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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Galvez denies ‘corruption’ in MILF decommissioning

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Presidential Adviser on Peace Reconciliation and Unity Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. vehemently denied that there is corruption involved in the decommissioning process of Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF) combatants.

Galvez was reporting on the status of the implementation of the MILF decommissioning process during a hearing by the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace Unification and Reconciliation.

Members of the Senate committee, which included Senators Raffy Tulfo, Imee Marcos, and Jinggoy Estrada, asked Galvez to clarify why there is a “discrepancy” in the cash assistance given to the decommissioned combatants.

Tulfo reportedly said that: “There’s corruption here, whether you like it or not.”

“Don’t tell us we’re corrupt,” the peace adviser told Tulfo during the hearing, which aimed to shed light on why there has been a delay in the implementation of the decommissioning process.

“We take serious offense in what Senator Tulfo said because there is absolutely no truth to that malicious, baseless allegation. To accuse us of such is an affront not only against our agency but also to the decommissioned combatants as well,” Galvez said.

To date, a total of 26,132 MILF combatants as well as 4,625 of their weapons, have undergone the process of decommissioning, which is being handled by the foreign-led International Decommissioning Body (IDB).

“Our senators must know that this cash assistance amounting to P100,000 for each combatant is part of the socioeconomic package under the Normalization Program of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB),” Galvez explained.

He stressed that the decommissioning process for former MILF combatants is entirely different from the national government’s other interventions such as the Balik-Baril Program and Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (ECLIP).

The peace adviser emphasized that all MILF combatants who received financial assistance undergo a stringent validation and verification process to ensure that they are the legitimate beneficiaries.

According to Galvez, the MILF leadership submits its list of validated combatants and weapons directly to the IDB, which has put in place all the necessary safeguards so that no other entity or institution can access the information.

The VMATs — composed of a representative from Turkiye/Brunei/Norway, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Philippine National Policy (PNP) and MILF — conducts a careful validation process through interviews and a stringent vetting process at the decommissioning site.

Galvez said that each combatant is then validated and registered through biometrics by the IDB, with their photos and fingerprints taken and printed in the IDB-issued ID or the decommissioned combatant’s ID.

After the decommissioning process, he said, the validated and registered combatants are then turned over for a social intake interview under the Task Force for Decommissioned Combatants and their Communities (TFDCC) and DSWD.

The decommissioned combatants, he said, shall likewise undergo a case management process conducted by the DSWD to ensure that the transitional cash assistance they received is properly utilized.

Galvez said the OPAPRU, through DSWD, has hired case workers to monitor and manage the status of all decommissioned combatants and assess their status, which is crucial in developing socioeconomic interventions for them, their families and communities.

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