Babu Psung, 60, from Sultan Sa Barongis, Maguindanao, was among the hundreds of Bangsamoro residents who witnessed the inauguration of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao yesterday. She is the wife of a grizzled MILF combatant.
In an interview, she shared her journey from being a perennial evacuee or “bakwit” of armed conflict to becoming a catalyst of peace and development. She attributes this life-changing transformation to the gains of the peace process.
Babu Psung recalled how she and her family lived in constant fear of when the next armed conflict will break out in the community. She had never gotten used to the sound of gunfire although her husband had been a combatant long before they were married.
This is the reason why she could not hold back her tears when she learned that her family will finally be leaving behind a dark chapter in their lives.
With the formal decommissioning of her husbands and thousands of MILF fighters, she believes that the Bangsamaoro people can look ahead to a brighter future.
“Natuntayan nami dn sa noget den a nyabay (decomissioning) na ipedtagu dn su mga tambak ka di ren penggamiten; dikna ip’d-surender uged na ip’dtagu,”she said when asked how she felt about the decommissioning process.
(We already learned that this (decommissioning) will put weapons beyond use. This is not to surrender them but just to set them aside.)
Asked about her expectations on how the next steps of the process will affect them, she answered, “Nya katundug na kabagenggay sa mga project a para sa tanan. Dikna maya ipendwal bu isa-isa uged a project a magamit nu madakel para sa uyag-uyag.”
(The next phase is the implementation of projects for all. These are not dole outs but livelihood projects that will benefit everyone.)
In conclusion, she said her whole family and the rest of their community fully support the Normalization Track, adding they are ready and excited for the decommissioning process to begin.
Former fighters: We are ready
Meanwhile, among the combatants who are set to undergo the decommissioning process is Bapa Imam, 60, who became a combatant since the Martial Law era.
Imam recounted the hardships he and his comrades experienced during the decades-long armed struggle.
“Mabagel ged i kab’ng-gyera sa’ntu a timpu, malegen i natala name,” he said.
(Battles were intense during those times. It was a hard time for us.)
When asked on how he felt that the Bangsamoro people have achieved their long held dream of genuine and meaningful self-governance and will be part of the decommissioning process, he said, “Nya nami ganggiginawa samaya na gapyay ginawa nami sa nasampay nami pan inya.”
(We feel genuinely happy that we are able to witness [these milestones].)
Imam concluded by expressing the collective aspirstions of the combatants to be decommissioned: “Kab’nggobyerno anya na mana bun ig – u malebug sa pulu na malebug bun taman sa baba. Pangeni-Ngenin ta na mapya i proseso ka ‘ndu malingaw i katamanan.”
(Governance can be compared to running water; fuzzy water upstream leads to fuzzy water downstream. Let us pray that clear processes will guide us along the way.)
Normalization Track: Sustaining the gains of peace and development
The major components under the Normalization Track are security, socio-economic development, confidence-building and Transitional Justice and Reconciliation.
The Joint Normalization Committee (JNC), which is under the oversight of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), will oversee the conduct of activities under the Normalization Track of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
The CAB was signed by the Philippine Government and the MILF in 2014, which ended more than four decades of armed conflict in Mindanao. ###