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Philippines: Inside the MILF Camp

Jason Gutierrez and Jojo Rinoza
Camp Darapanan, Philippines
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Five years after the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a peace pact with the Philippine government, the group’s main camp in Maguindanao province looks like a typical farm town – except that men in fatigues with assault rifles are everywhere.

This is where MILF leader Murad Ebrahim returns on weekends after spending the work week in an office in Cotabato City, serving as interim chairman of the new Bansamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The new Muslim autonomous region was ratified by a majority of voters in at least five southern provinces at the beginning of the year – a half decade after MILF and the government in Manila signed a peace pact to end decades of fighting.

Many members of the MILF have known no life other than war, yet now the organization is transitioning from insurgent force to governing force, and faces the challenge of securing the peace while also gradually giving up its weapons.

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