Duterte: Gov’t ready to assist as Moro rebels lay down arms

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President Rodrigo Duterte (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 7)— As hundreds of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters turned over their weapons on Saturday, President Rodrigo Duterte assured the Moro rebels the government is ready to assist them as they transition to civilian lives.

“As we proceed with the decommissioning process, let me assure the MILF combatants that the government will assist you as you reintegrate into the society, and enjoy fruitful and productive civilian lives,” Duterte said during his speech at the second phase launch of the MILF decommissioning in Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao.

Duterte also told decommissioned fighters not to fret, as their community should enjoy an independent government. The chief executive added he is willing to provide new weapons—should the need for further security arise.

“Do not be disheartened na nag-surrender ka ng armas. Inyo na itong gobyerno na ito. Binigay namin sa inyo.,” Duterte told the MILF community.

[Translation: Do not be disheartened that you’re giving up your firearms to the government. Because this government is all yours. We gave it to you.]

“Kung kailangan niyo talaga ng armas para idepensa ninyo ang gobyerno dito sa BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), walang problema, bigyan ko kayo mas bago,” he added.

[Translation: If you really need weapons to defend your government here in the BARMM, no problem, I’ll give you new ones.]

The President reiterated that the Bangsamoro region’s resources—including oil deposits in the Liguasan Marsh in the Mindanao River basin-- will remain theirs alone.

RELATED: Duterte to Bangsamoro government: Your resources are all yours

Over a thousand MILF fighters, including 920 weapons, were decommissioned on Saturday as part of the rebel group’s 2014 peace deal with the government.

READ: Decommissioning, weapon turnover not equal to surrender – MILF chair

Duterte issued Executive Order No. 79 in April, which sought to carry out an efficient "normalization" and decommissioning process to help former combatants transition to a civilian life.

Under the peace agreement, normalization is defined as the process where communities “can achieve their desired quality of life, which includes the pursuit of sustainable livelihood and political participation within a peaceful deliberative society.” It also aims to ensure “human security” in the Bangsamoro autonomous region, which was established in January, following the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.