Saturday Apr, 20 2024 07:54:26 AM

Senator asks OPAPRU to ensure MILF combatants' proper use of cash aid

BANGSAMORO NEWS UPDATES • 19:15 PM Tue Feb 20, 2024
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By: 
Wilnard Bacelonia
DSWD Sec. Rex Gatchalian (seated, center in red polo shirt) engages decommissioned combatants of the MILF in an open dialogue during the resumption of the Phase 3 Decommissioning of MILF members in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao del Norte.

MANILA – Senator Raffy Tulfo has asked the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) to include in the decommissioning process the requirement for Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants to sign a document assuring that the PHP100,000 cash aid they get would be properly spent.

Tulfo, in a public hearing of the Committee on Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation Tuesday, asked OPAPRU Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. to strengthen the implementation of the ongoing decommissioning process.

"Ang purpose ng PHP100,000, tatlo lang po (The PHP100,000 has only three purposes): for food support; non-food support such as hygiene kits, family kits, kitchen kits, sleeping kits, shelter kits; and special various needs of vulnerable family members such as children, older persons, persons with disability," Tulfo said, noting that the cash assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) should not be used in buying another firearm.

"Kaya dapat pinapapirma ninyo sila para kung dumating 'yung time na nakita niyo na binili pala ng firearms, pwede niyo silang kasuhan (That's why you need to require them to sign so when the time comes that you see them use the money to buy firearms, you can file a case)," he added.

In response, Galvez informed the panel the transformation of MILF communities in the normalization process.

The decommissioned combatants, he said, undergo a case management process to ensure that the cash assistance they receive is properly used.

Galvez said the OPAPRU, through DSWD, hired case workers to monitor and manage the status of decommissioned combatants and assess their status, which is crucial in developing socioeconomic interventions for them, their families and communities.

He said OPAPRU is set to partner with the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos to give the combatants an option to take the Hajj pilgrimage in exchange for their firearms.

"'Yung lahat po ng strategy na pwede po nating makuha 'yung mga illegally possessed firearms ay gagawin po natin (We will use all strategies to secure all illegally possessed firearms)," Galvez said.

The Senate launched the inquiry after reports from local chief executives in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that there were alleged irregularities in the decommissioning process.

One of the reported anomalies as cited by Senator Jinggoy Estrada was the alleged cut of MILF commanders from the cash assistance that the combatants receive.

MILF Implementing Panel Secretariat Mahajirin Ali expressed his doubt about the matter but assured that they would never tolerate such practice. (PNA)

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