From Rebels to Soldiers: An Analysis of the Philippine and East Timorese Policy Integrating Former Moro National Liberation Front (Mnlf) and Falintil Combatants into the Armed Forces
33 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 1 Oct 2009
Date Written: 2009
The Philippines and East Timor are two countries whose governments have integrated ex-insurgents into their regular armed forces and police. In the Philippines, the arrangement to integrate 5,000 rebels came out of the final peace agreement signed between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996. The MNLF integrees were mixed into the regular police and military units deployed in conflict areas in Mindanao. The East Timorese case, on the other hand, involved the in-take of ex-Falintil combatants into the newly created state military within the framework of demobilization and disarmament. Previous studies on security sector reform point to the shortcomings in training and military organizational culture for units with ex-rebels in the ranks. Integration policy both as a peace strategy and a security sector reform initiative is problematized in view of the gender-blind assumptions behind it and differential economic benefits it confers. The politicized nature of the policy itself--that is, the negotiations between international actors and local stakeholders over the decision to integrate, who to select and the concomitant consequences of this decision to security force composition and professionalism invite theorizing. This paper is based on a comparative research project funded by Toyota Foundation's Southeast Asian Regional Exchange Program, which examines and compares the policy behind the selection, training, placement and utilization of rebel-integrees into the East Timor Defense Force (FDTL) and the Philippine army to respond to internal security challenges. It probes how international actors (the United Nations, donors, third parties and neighbors), national/local political authorities and civil society representatives informed the policies. The gendered assumptions made by those who crafted the integration policy will also be looked at. In addition, the research will examine how identity markers (in the Philippine case, religion; in East Timor, ethnicity) inform the ways in which the ex-rebels function inside the armed forces. The implication of the integration policy into the future prospects for peace in both countries will also be explored.
Keywords: rebel integration, military merger, Falintil, Moro National Liberation Front
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