By MASIDING NOOR YAHYA
MANILA — The National Task Force for the Disbandment of Private Armed Groups (NTF-DPAGs) have disbanded 15 private armed groups in Mindanao, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace, Reconciliation and Unity reported recently.
In a Social Media statement, the OPAPRU said the development proves the Task Force continues to sustain gains in its peacekeeping efforts in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and other areas in Mindanao.
“We have already disbanded 15 private armed groups from the original 18 private armed groups given to the Task Force Western Mindanao. These 15 private armed groups were with 93 members and 85 firearms in our possession,” said PLTGEN Jose Chiquito Malayo, commander of Task Force Western Mindanao in his report during the NTF-DPAGs Oversight Committee meeting held here earlier this month.
The previously disbanded 14 PAGs and 1 inactive PAG have also been approved for delisting based on the recommendation made by the Joint AFP-PNP Intelligence Committee (JAPIC).
Meanwhile, Task Force Eastern Mindanao Commander PLTGEN Manuel Abu reported that there are no more PAGs operating in Regions X and XI.
Abu said that the task force has been focusing more on “non-partisan, proactive measures [by] continuously monitoring to neutralize armed conflict in the upcoming local and national elections through a series of Peace Covenant Signing of Political Candidates in the region.”
These amendments will make the IROG more effective, responsive and more updated, especially with the necessary tasks and mandate that needs to be carried out by the national task force.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año expressed his gratitude to members of the NTF-DPAGs, particularly to the Task Force Western Mindanao, which led to the disbandment of the 15 PAGs in the Bangsamoro Region.
Año also emphasized the need “to eliminate them altogether” and “discourage political families” from using PAGs to promote their personal interests particularly during the upcoming national elections.
“Tunay na sa ating pagsusumikap, ay tuluyan ng lumiliit ang mga grupong nais magpalaganap ng pang-aabuso, pananakot at paninikil gamit ng kanilang mga armas,” said Año.
Presidential peace adviser Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the OPAPRU is committed to continuing to support the efforts of NTF-DPAGs member agencies so that it can “perform their duties and responsibilities as efficiently and effectively as possible”.
“We believe that by complementing and boosting each other’s efforts, we will be able to realize our collective goal of achieving a just and lasting peace in the Bangsamoro,” Galvez said.
The NTF-DPAGs is among the peacekeeping initiatives being implemented through the security component of the normalization track under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).