Expert doubts MILF combatants will disarm completely

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — To the Moros, guns are sacred.

As a revolutionary force, fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will find it hard to surrender their arms, according to Dean Julkipli Wadi of the University of the Philippines Institute of Islamic Studies.

The MILF has not disclosed the size of its force and the number of its weapons. But the military estimates its troop strength at 10,000.

"It's a very risky move," Wadi says. "Diyan sa mga baril ang lakas o pwersa ng Moro Islamic Liberation Front, dahil tandaan natin: Hindi naman sila kakausapin ng pamhalaan kung wala silang pwersa." 

Because of the gun culture in Mindanao, Wadi says there's no assurance that the decomissioned members will no longer keep guns in their homes.

In a land rife with conflict, owning a gun ensures safety and security.

So it's important for the government, Wadi says, to ensure the safety of the rebels after the decommissioning.

The government must also look beyond providing monetary compensation and livelihood projects as these are no longer enough to ensure that the former combatants wouldn't return to rebellion.

Wadi adds the acceptance of communities would help the combatants embrace their new life as civilians.

Meanwhile, lawmakers — whether for or against the Bangsamoro Basic Law — agree that decommissioning of MILF's firearms can be a good gesture to strengthen mutual trust between the government and the MILF.

But lawmakers differed in their opinions on whether the decommissioning process can affect the passage of the BBL and if it will solve the conflict in Mindanao.

Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo says: "I think it will have a substantial effect. If he had a vote now, the approval would win."

Rep. Teri Ridon of the Kabataan partylist group says: "The Bangsamoro Basic Law as proposed will not lead to just and lasting peace."

Wadi says decommissioning is a way to send a message to Congress to immediately pass the BBL.

He believes it will not be passed under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III. He is however optimistic that the next will continue negotiating with the MILF.