LANAO DEL SUR — In his more than three of decades as a Bangsamoro Mujahid (Islamic soldier), Abdul Jalil Maminta, a native of Balindong in Lanao del Sur, never imagined that he would be working side-by-side with the very same people he vowed to destroy.

“Noong [panahon ng armed struggle] na hindi pa kami kasama sa JPST (Joint Peace and Security Team) marami akong kapatid na namatay. Noong all-out-war may kapatid akong namatay doon at sa Lanao del Norte sa Munai meron akong mga first cousins na namatay doon,” recalled Maminta after the JPST unit, of which he is a member, was deployed in Balindong, Lanao del Sur on April 11.

Each JPST is composed of representatives from the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) whose mandate is to ensure peace and security in areas mutually identified by the Government of the Philippines and the MILF.

Maminta has been with the composite peacekeeping team since he joined the training program to qualify as a member. Despite what happened in the past, he now considers his AFP and PNP team members as his brothers.

“Parang magkakapatid na kami ngayon. Noong una, talagang magkakalaban kami. Nagpuputukan pero ngayon, parang magkakapatid na kami. May mga picture na kami. Kumakain na kami na sabay-sabay kami. Nag-istorya kami na sabay-sabay kami. Basta parang magkakapatid lang,” shared Maminta.

The security aspect of the Normalization track under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the landmark peace agreement between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF, has paved the way for GPH and the MILF forces to jointly secure critical areas where the normalization process is being carried out.

Joint GPH-MILF forces aid in rido settlement

According to Maminta, his team was able to help resolve a “rido” or clan war due to a land dispute soon after they were deployed in the area.

They first learned about the rido when they heard the exchange of gunfire between the two feuding families.

“Pinuntahan namin ang brgy chairman, kinausap namin sya, kasama ko ang team leaders ng JPST-PNP at JPST-AFP. Kinausap namin ‘yung parties, gumitna kami para hindi sila makapagbarilan,” recounted Maminta.

His team then accompanied members of both families to the barangay local government unit where they agreed to turn over their firearms.

“Nakapagusap-usap sila at nagkayakapan sila,” said Maminta, adding that no singed bullet was fired after the settlement was reached.

Rido or clan feuds are among the peace and security concerns which JPSTs help resolve within their areas of responsibility through the use of proper channels and protocols.

“Masaya kami ngayon. Ito ang pinaka gusto namin — yung walang gulo. Dapat lang na magkaisa na tayo dahil lahat tayo Pilipino,” Maminta said.

Presidential Peace Adviser Sec. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. shares Maminta’s perspective on how just and long-lasting peace can be achieved.

Quoting Albert Einstein, Galvez said: “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”

The Joint Peace and Security Committee (JPSC) is responsible for training, organizing and supervising the JPSTs, as it oversees the implementation of interventions under the Normalization Track of the CAB.

To date, 11 JPSTs have already been activated, with 316 JPST members officially deployed across the region.

Things are indeed looking bright for the Bangsamoro, as former Mujahideens like Maminta continue to walk the path of peace. ###