Last minute preparations being done for peace deal signing

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

THE Aquino administration is finalizing the preparations for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to be held at the Palace grounds on Thursday afternoon.

In a press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the CAB signing would be so far the biggest event to be held under the current administration as over 1,000 people are expected to attend.

He said a big tent will be erected at the Kalayaan grounds where the signing will take place.

"The reason for holding it there, outside of the Palace itself, is that we had to find a place within the grounds to accommodate over a thousand guests," he said.

Quoting a statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs, he said that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will attend the signing ceremony despite the ongoing crisis in Malaysia in connection with the missing Malaysian airliner with more than 200 passengers on board.

"We know for a fact that Malaysia is undergoing a crisis owing to the fact of the disappearance of the Malaysian airline. Be that as it may, Malaysia is fully aware of its international commitments and we thank them that despite the difficulty that they’re encountering, that they have accepted our invitation to grace the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro," Lacierda said.

Prior to the signing ceremony, Najib will meet with President Benigno Aquino III to briefly discuss matters of mutual concern between the Philippines and Malaysia.

Malaysia has been the facilitator of peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF since 2001, and has hosted the talks in Kuala Lumpur. It is also the leader of the International Monitoring Team observing the GPH-MILF ceasefire.

Lacierda said the signing will be at 4 p.m. Thursday and they expect the guests to start arriving around 2 p.m.

There will also be areas for the Muslim to say their prayers at the Kalayaan Hall in Malacanang.

Lacierda did not provide details about the ongoing security preparations but he said there will be a number of usherettes from different agencies who will help.

Among the agencies extending their assistance will be Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Presidential Management Staff, and the Protocol Office.

"There will also be a station where all the invited guests—some of them will be pre-cleared but there will be a station for some of the guests to undergo security check," the Palace official said.

Officials who are expected to deliver their respective statements include Presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim. (SDR/Sunnex)

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