MILF fighters’ life stories remembered on BARMM’s 1st anniversary

Published March 31, 2020, 1:58 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ali Macabalang 

COTABATO CITY – Despite the cancellation of festivities related to the first anniversary of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the life story of a former mujahid (freedom fighter) was still remembered in a bid to rekindle the spirit of patience and determination of the Bangsamoro struggle.

Ex-combatant Mohalidin Latip, whose life story was featured by the regional government after cancelling festive celebration of its 1st founding anniversary on March 29 in favor delivering aids and services in fighting COVID-19.
Ex-combatant Mohalidin Latip, whose life story was featured by the regional government after canceling festive celebration of its 1st founding anniversary on March 29 in favor of delivering aids and services in fighting COVID-19.

Mohalidin Latip recalled his life as former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatant, a colorful memoir which will now form part of the records at the BARMM’s Bureau of Public Information (BPI).

Recalling the sacrifices among freedom fighters for majority’s welfare was better than celebrating any event amid crisis, according to BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim, who cancelled all earlier planned festivities for the BARMM’s first foundation last Sunday, March 30, in favor of delivering aids and services to fight the pandemic. Ebrahim is concurrent MILF chairman.

Latip was only 20 years old when he joined the Bangsamoro struggle for self-determination and autonomy over ancestral lands in Mindanao. He seemed fearless, but vulnerable to the pain of being away from his loved ones, anxious of when will they meet again, the BPI said.

“Pag nasa bundok kami, maraming bumabagabag na tanong: Ano na kaya ang nangyayari sa pamilya namin? Kamusta na kaya sila? Ligtas kaya sila sa panganib dala ng paghahanap sa amin ng mga alagad ng pamahalaan?” Latip, now 49 years old, was quoted as recalling.

The BPI described Latip as “sentimentally nostalgic” while “narrating in tears how he had worried profusely about leaving his wife burdened like a single mother to their two young children.”

“But my anxieties and grief over loss of many lives in our struggle had gradually fizzled out after the MILF and the government finally capped their oft-stalled peace talks, and forged the FAB (Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro) in 2013 and the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro) in 2014,” Latip recalled in the vernacular.

The two major accords served as main bases in the enactment in July 2018 of R.A. 11054 establishing BARMM in lieu of the 29-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The law was ratified in the January and February plebiscites last year. On March 29, 2019, President Duterte inaugurated the interim BARMM bureaucracy.

Latip was one of the 12,000 fighters of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the MILF’s armed wing, who underwent the second phase of the decommissioning process, which began in August 2019 and ended this month.

The decommissioning process is a key provision in the Annex on Normalization of the CAB meant to transform the MILF combatants back to peaceful and productive life.

The BPI also featured another decommissioned MILF-BIAF combatant, 57 year-old Ibrahim Abdillah, who shared sentiments similar to those of Latip.

“Napakalaking pagbabago sa buhay namin ngayon. Kapiling na ang pamilya, hindi na nagtatago, at may malaking pagasa na makaahun din sa buhay,” Abdillah said in the BPI statement.

Each of the decommissioned ex-combatants received P100,000 cash in livelihood start kit, alongside state-assured health, housing, and social packages worth P950,000 for their families.

“Latip used the money to start a small business with his family while Abdillah purchased livestock for breeding,” the BPI said.

Some decommissioned ex-rebels have become salaried members of the Joint Peace and Security Team, alongside police and soldier-counterparts, after completing a month-long basic military training. A few others were hired in the BARMM bureaucracy’s line agencies and staff offices, the BPI said.

 
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