2,000 MILF ex-fighters serve BARMM’s Greening program

ALI G. MACABALANG

Bangsamoro Executive Secretary and Environment Minister Abdulraof Macacua, sitting beside MILG Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, gestures in disclosing governmental activities under his watch, including the hiring of ex-combatants of the MILF in regional “greening” program, at an exclusive interview by Philippine Muslim Today News Editor Ali Macabalang and Editor-In-Chief Ding Yahya on Nov. 10. ( Photo by Nur-Ali Macabalang)

COTABATO CITY

Some 2,000 ex-combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are gainfully working as field workers of the Bangsamoro autonomous government’s “:Greening” Program, a regional counterpart to national reforestation campaign.

At least 600 of the employed former MILF warriors serve as “Palaw Rangers,” a regional rag for Forest Rangers, in the regional greening program, according to Bangsamoro government Executive Secretary Abdulraof macacua, who is concurrent Minister of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy (MENRE).

Macacua, erstwhile known as Chief of Staff Sammy Al-Mansoor in the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), was interviewed alongside Local Government Naguib Sinarimbo by the Philippine Muslim Today Tuesday (Nov. 10) evening at his office here.

The MILF combatants-turned regular forest rangers have been fielded in provinces of the Bangsamoro region with remaining forest covers, starting initially with forests in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, it was learned.

Under the “Greening” program, hundreds other MILF ex-combatants have been hired as treed seedling producers in designated nurseries, Macacua said.

The MENRE also hired hundreds of other former MILF fighters to plant every matured seedlings produced by their comrades in the erstwhile revolutionary front, he said.

From forest guarding to seedling production and planting stages of the program, the MENRE has so far employed 2,000 MILF former combatants, he added.

Government statistics showed the MILF having some 12,000 combatants and field cadres.

A large segment of the MILF combat forces has already been decommissioned in batches under the normalization annex of the two major peace deals forged by the national government with the revolutionary front.

Hundreds already decommissioned MILF members had been processed for enlistment in proposed 200 Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPSTs), which also incorporated representatives from the police and military ranks.

The Turkey-led Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) jointly facilitated the processes in batches in Maguindanao areas.

OPAPP and IDP officials had inaugurated earlier at Camp Abubakar, the MILF’s former headquarters, an edifice for one of six JPST barracks earmarked across the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and immediate environs.

Earlier, MILF leaders had sounded off concern over the need to provide gainful works after decommissioning, saying majority of the ex-combatrants could not be accommodated in white collar jobs in the regional bureaucracy for sheer lack of civil service qualifications.

The employment of the ex-fighter in the JPST program and regional “Greening” venture has eased such challenge, Macacua once said. (AGM)

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