PNoy open to giving MILF men benefits

Posted at 10/17/2012 4:44 PM | Updated as of 10/17/2012 9:32 PM

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino is open to providing benefits for Moro Islamic Liberation Front's fighters who will lay down their arms and help “integrate them in society."

Speaking at a forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, he said he has asked MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad to craft a “priority list” of proposals, the details of which can be discussed by the peace panels. 
 
“That was actually we had a short conversation with Chairman Murad before the actual signing. He did say that their fighters should be made to feel that this was a right decision on their part. So there should be benefits the day they would accrue from entering of this agreement. To which I responded by, ‘Perhaps, you have a priority list. You know your people better, what they are capable of right now and we will go through your priority list and implement it as far as practicable in the schedule and the items that you want to do,” Aquino said. 
 
One of the details that would be discussed and “negotiated further is the regional police force” and its relationship with the Philippine National Police and the National Police Commission.
 
The Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces will “cease to exist” as an armed force but Aquino is not giving specific timelines for its gradual decommissioning.

“The new government (Bangsamoro) gets empowered through an elections by 2016 then they cease to exist as an armed force—to a large degree ceases the existence of armed force. But that will be contingent also in their ability to attend tothemselves, the trust that will be in gendered, the policing of their areas... So I think it will be unfair at this point in time to tie them down to specific timelines given that they are still nebulous as to who takes over the internal security,” he said.

Wealth sharing

Aquino also said details of the power-sharing and wealth-sharing with the Bangsamoro would be ironed out as the government and MILF discuss the annexes of the framework agreement.
 
“Power I think is clearly defined already. We're already in the nuances stage. For instance, in territorial waters, the municipal waters extend up to about 15 kilometers from the coastline. They want, some say, beyond the 15-kilometer baseline that affects not just what is now the ARMM but other areas within the country. So that is subject to further negotiations when we tackle the details in the annex,” he said.
 
“In wealth sharing, there will be a balance between their needs and, of course, at the onset it will be the national government that will be funding a lot of the activities that they will be undertaking… The concept is, in the same token that the rest of the country will be helping them through this transition, perhaps you can also expect them to help the rest of the country once they have their feet firmly planted on the ground.”