161 new JPST peacekeepers deployed in BARMM

161 new JPST peacekeepers deployed in BARMM

CAMP S.K. PENDATUN, Maguindanao – Peace and security measures in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) are expected to further improve with the deployment on Wednesday of another 161-strong Joint Peace and Security Team (JPST) in conflict-affected communities.

Brig. Gen. Eden Ugale, BARMM police director, said the latest JPST graduates that are up for deployment belong to the third batch to have completed a three-month training inside this camp for this year.

“They are trained to safeguard the communities from saboteurs of peace,” he said.

Ugale hosted here Tuesday the graduation ceremony for the 3rd JPST batch with Minister Mohagher Iqbal, the BARMM’s education minister and former chief peace negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in attendance.

The 161 JPST members are composed of Army, police, and former MILF fighters who were trained to become peacekeepers in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

The graduates will now form part of the targeted 6,000-strong JPST contingent that will be composed of 3,000 MILF, 1,600 police officers, and 1,400 Army troopers.

“The JPST will be divided into several teams whose main task is to maintain peace and security in the MILF communities that will undergo the normalization process within and outside the BARMM,” Ugale said.

The Normalization Track is part of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro which the government and the MILF signed in 2014.

At the heart of the Normalization Track is the decommissioning of 40,000 MILF combatants wherein their weapons will be put beyond use. The MILF camps will also be transformed into peaceful, progressive, and resilient communities.

The entire process is expected to be completed within three years, starting between this year and 2022 in time for the signing of the Exit Agreement between the government and the MILF.

The normalization track is expected to run until 2025.

Aside from peacekeeping job, the JPST who will be deployed in the areas mutually agreed upon between the GPH and the MILF is also tasked to track and document private armed groups, and help in the reduction and control of weapons; support the observance of the existing ceasefire agreement to address and prevent hostilities.

They will also work on security arrangements for activities and personalities involved in the peace process and support dispute resolution initiatives on the ground.

Iqbal, for his part, urged the JPST members to maintain discipline and prioritize the interest of the Bangsamoro above all by working for peace with utmost dedication.

“Your role is very vital in sustaining the gains of the GPH-MILF peace agreement,” Iqbal told the JPST members.

Ugale said more series of training are scheduled in the coming months until the 6,000-strong JPST goal is reached. (PNA)

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