Monday, February 20, 2017

WATCH: Mga batang sundalo ng MILF naiturn-over na sa gobyerno at UNICEF


The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) released 50 child combatants in a formal ceremony on Sunday, February 19, that kickstarted the implementation of the rebel group's commitment to disengage a total of 1,858 combatants under 18.

In the town of Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao, certificates of disengagement were given to child soldiers who performed roles such couriers and support staff to parents who are fighters themselves. It indicated their release from the MILF armed group Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).

In a press release, the military said United Children's Fund (Unicef) country representative Lotta Sylwander lauded the BIAF for being the only armed group in the world that successfully turned over child combatants to their parents.

One of Unicef's advocacies is to call out armed groups on employing child combatants or soldiers under 18 who participate directly or indirectly in armed conflicts.

The rest of the BIAF child combatants are expected to be released in the coming days.

Based on Unicef data, child combatants in the BIAF are mostly boys (60%) but girls are also significantly involved (40%).

Aside from Sylwander, chief presidential peace adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza, Western Mindanao Command chief Major General Carlito Galvez, and MILF Vice Chairman Gadzali Jaafar, and other key officials supporting talks with the MILF also witnessed the ceremony.

MILF's Jaafar said it shows the group's commitment to the peace process: "We need to unite for a better tomorrow because we believe that there is a better tomorrow."

Dureza celebrated the progress of the peace process. "The government is happy that the endeavor has finally come to reality," he said. He promised to facilitate possible assistance to the families of the former child combatants.

The previous Aquino government signed a peace deal with the MILF, but the law that was supposed to implement the agreements failed to pass Congress.

President Rodrigo Duterte, the first Philippine president from Mindanao, vowed he will get the law passed and complete the peace process. He has signed the appointment papers of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission that will draft a revised version of the law.

Galvez, the newly installed military commander in Western Mindanao, vowed they will support the development of the former child combatants. "The Armed Forces sees this as a welcoming development and will be very supportive in the implementation of activities intended to develop the welfare of these children," he said.

He has gained the trust of the MILF. "Major General Galvez is genuinely working closely and actively in understanding the problems and finding means to be able to contribute to its long-term solution," said Jaafar.

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SOURCE: YOUTUBE, RAPPLER

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