CAMP ABUBAKAR, former headquarters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has been formally turned over to the Joint Peace and Security Committee (JPSC) and will now serve as the barracks for the first JPS Team tasked to safeguard weapons of decommissioned MILF combatants. The new barracks for the JPST — composed of decommissioned members of the MILF Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Philippine National Police — is the first of 11 that will be set up in seven provinces across Mindanao, according to a statement from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). The other facilities will be in North Cotabato, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Basilan, Zamboanga Sibugay, Lanao Del Norte, and Lanao del Sur. OPAPP, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is partly funding the construction of the camps. “Today’s turnover of the first of 11 JPST barracks that will be established in mutually agreed areas symbolizes our desire to ensure the implementation of the security component of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB),” OPAPP Undersecretary David B. Diciano, head of the Joint Normalization Division and chair of the government’s Peace Implementing Panel, said during the February 14 ceremony. “The decommissioned weapons you will be securing here in this camp represents the decades of armed struggle of the Bangsamoro People. And now that they have been put to rest, they will serve as a reminder to all of us of the sacrifices made by our Moro brothers and sisters in order to uplift the lives of their people,” he said. The weapons are kept in the Secured Arms and Storage Area inside the camp under the oversight of the International Decommissioning Body, which is composed of representatives from the governments of Turkey, Norway, Brunei, and local experts nominated by the Philippine government and MILF.
Camp Abubakar, also referred to by its old name Camp Iranun, “had been witness to some of the most memorable historical events of the Bangsamoro struggle’s struggle for self governance, culminating in the signing of the historic CAB,” OPAPP said. Shuaib Adam, a member of the MILF Joint Task Force on Camps Transformation, is optimistic that the camp and all the other MILF communities will be restored to their “former glory.” In January last year, the Department of Agriculture (DA) signed an agreement with a business group backed by Russian and Swiss investors to set up a banana plantation in Iranun. — Mindanao Bureau