By Ali G. Macabalang
Regional Interior and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo has graced the recent 30th Philippine National Police (PNP) Foundation Anniversary celebration by the police regional office (PRO) in Parang, Maguindanao, and prodded the reveling cops on their vital role in the evolution of Mindanao peace process.
“As we transition from negotiation to peace agreement implementation, and move towards normalization, the locus of engagement will increasingly shift from the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) to the PNP. We trust that the PNP, like the AFP, will deliver,” Minister Sinarimbo recalled as telling the celebrating cops on Feb. 8.
Sinarimbo was referring to evolution of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF’) decades of peace talks with the government that led to the signing of two major accords of 2013 and 2014, which have been translated legally under R.A. 11054, more known as Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) enacted in July 2018.
The BOL was ratified in the Jan. 21 and Feb. 6, 2019 plebiscites, giving birth to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in replacement of its 39-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). President Duterte inaugurated the BARMM interim parliament and bureaucracy on March 29 of the same year.
It stipulated two main directions – normalization and political tracks, which respectively mandate the decommissioning of the MILF’s 40,000 combatants and their transformation to peaceful-productive life, and the building of parliament-style government fracture for BARMM.
Over 12,000 MILF members have been decommissioned and part of the government-promised socio-economic package to help them transform to civilians has already been released. Dozens of those decommissioned former rebels have been trained alongside police and military elements to form composite teams called joint peace and security teams (JPST) now securing BARMM activities and state-recognized MILF camps.
Conceptually, the full transformation to civilians of MILF combat forces, some of them through the JPST system, will decrease the intensity of AFP operations in BARMM areas and increase police works as a consequence. Qualified ones among those decommissioned are earmarked for commissioning or enlistment in the police force.
In his speech, Sinarimbo said the MILF-government peace dealings have involved innovative processes such as in the earlier formation of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) and the JPST.
“These experiences (in police-military-MILF dynamics and synergies) will further improve the PNP and provide it with a rare experience and context that it may share to the world in areas of peace building and accords implementation in the years to come,” he said.
Sinarimbo joined Brig. Gen. Samuel P. Rodriguez, BARMM police director, and his subordinates in commemorating the 50th PNP founding anniversary.
He hinted that the celebration of the national event at Camp Salipada K. Pendatun, the PRO-BARMM’s headquarters in Parang, Maguindanao, could be the “most significant” across the nation, especially among the new generations of police officials.
Camp S.K. Pendatun was once headed by Brig. Gen. Rodrigo Gutang, who eventually was elected as member of the House of Representatives (representing North Cotabato first district) upon retirement. Gutang was the main author of R.A. 6975 that created the PNP in replacement of the Philippine Constabulary/Integrated National Police (PC/INP). AGM