THE first phase of the process of the decommissioning of forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was implemented last Tuesday. The ceremony, held in Barangay Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato was attended by President Noynoy Aquino representing the government and MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim. Monitoring the activity was Turkish ambassador Haydar Berk, chairperson of the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB).

Critics immediately pounced on the ceremony as a pretense by the MILF rather than the group showing sincerity in the peace process. But these people do not actually believe in anything the MILF does. Yet we are talking here of 75 firearms being decommissioned and 145 fighters promising to follow the ways of peace.

“But this is not about statistics,” Ebrahim said. “This is something very personal to us. As I look at the faces of each of our 145 brothers here in the morning, I see 145 stories of struggle, of pain, of hopelessness and even of death. Yet I also see 145 stories of hope and faith that indeed peace is near and that all the sacrifices have been worth it.”

Again, to the critics, what the MILF did was mere pretense. But the truth is that despite efforts by some politicians to mangle the agreed upon Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the MILF still followed what was stipulated in the peace agreement. The group has willingly followed the schedule of the four-phase decommissioning process. The first phase requires the MILF to decommission 30 percent of its forces.

“Pagsapit ng aktuwal na pagpapatibay o ratipikasyon ng Bangsamoro Basic Law, 30 porsyentong MILF combatants at armas ang pormal nang na decommission,” said Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr. in a recent press conference. That’s the second phase. In the third phase, 35 percent of MILF forces will be decommissioned. The rest will follow in the fourth phase.

Ebrahim said that some of the MILF fighters that volunteered to lay down their arms were veterans of the all-out war that Joseph Estrada launched when he was president. In that war, government forces overrun some of the MILF camps but that only succeeded in forcing the rebel forces to shift to the more tricky strategy of guerilla warfare.

Now it is up to the government to show its sincerity in adhering to the peace process. Unfortunately, the current political situation in the country is a problem.

After the Mamasapano encounter in January, it has all been posturing for some politicians who are running for office in 2016. Instead of explaining adequately the provisions of the BBL, they are instead trying to scuttle its passage by riding on the people’s fear of ghosts.

Consider Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate committee on local governments that is discussing the BBL. He is using the proposed BBL in his political propaganda. He is running for a higher post in 2016 and is trying to milk the issue to make himself look good to those opposed to the BBL’s passage.

Marcos, son and namesake of the former dictator, even had the gall to announce that he would craft his own version of the BBL, like it is a one-man job. Yet, with such a difficult task he is arrogating unto himself, he seems to be taking his own sweet time to finish the job. He was in Davao City last Monday talking like the BBL’s passage can stand procrastination.

He said he has no timeline for the drafting of a substitute version of the BBL. “If you know, other groups that have not been consulted tell me, the more infor, the better,” he told reporters. Meaning he might continue “consulting” with unnamed groups, leaving the completion of his substitute version hanging.

And yet the passage of the BBL is crucial to the full decommissioning of MILF forces and the end of the decades-old war it waged.

(khanwens@gmail.com)