Bangsamoro agreement signed; Jubilation echoes in Mindanao

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

MARAWI CITY – Celebrations sprouted in various parts of Mindanao to welcome the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) at the Palace grounds Thursday that is hoped to bring a new chapter to the history of the conflict-torn region.

Beginning Thursday morning, the sounds of 'kulintang' rang in Marawi as hundreds of Maranao youth took the rounds around the city to hark about the historic occasion.

A peace rally attended by thousands of Maranaos unfolded in Plaza Cabili later.


“We show our joy through the cultural expressions of solidarity in our sounds of banging kulintangs to tell the world of our identity as a people,” the Lanao del Sur group Peoples’ Development Initiative for the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (PEDICAB) said in a statement.

Bangsamoro supporters

MARAWI CITY. An estimated 6,000 Bangsamoro supporters join the prayer rally in Banggolo, Marawi City on March 27 to support the signing of Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in Malacanang to end the decades-old of conflict in Mindanao. (Richel V. Umel)

“This marks a culmination of more than a decade of negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). We congratulate the panels who painstakingly put efforts in the hours and days of discussions on the FAB, Annexes that led to this historic signing,” it added.

“This is not the end. There is so much work to be done by all to ensure a ceasefire is maintained and people’s voices are mainstreamed and heard in the process of peace building,” the group further said.

Achmad Lao, spokesperson of MILF Information committee, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that with the signing of peace agreement, the Bangsamoro community is confident that lasting peace and sustainable development will be attained in Mindanao.

Abdul Hamidullah Atar, sultan of Marawi City/RIDO executive officer, said, "the event in Malacañang today must serve as our reflection in the past and we are here to express our support, solidarity and gratitude to each and everyone including the international community that we are pleased and thankful for the outcome of the peace negotiations through the signing of the said accord."

Colonel Glenn Macasero, commanding officer of 103rd Brigade of the Philippine Army, deployed soldiers from 65th Infantry Battalion (IB) and 51st IB to secure the momentous event for lasting peace.

Daylong festivities also happened inside the MILF administrative base of Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

In Iligan City, non-government group Pakigdait organized a peace rally and celebratory gathering at the public plaza to show support for the CAB and the Mindanao peace process.

In Manila, a Bangsamoro Kalilang was staged in Mendiola on March 25 and 26. Some 15,000 community leaders from Marawi, Cotabato, Davao, Zamboanga and some towns in Maguindanao traveled to Manila in a peace caravan and joined the festivities for the CAB signing.

On Thursday afternoon in Mendiola, after the CAB signing rites, several tribal leaders from Mindanao perform the Sapa, an indigenous ritual that sought to transform the historic document into a “sacred compact and a living document of peace and kinship among the peoples of Mindanao.”

The process is undetaken by ritualists from the Teduray, Talaandig, Subanen, Higaonon, Matigsalug, Arumanen and Manobo tribes.

The rites are part of the 'Peacetahan' sa Pirmahan celebrations led by civil society organizations.

The CAB signing rites gathered accolades from revolutionary organizations that have inked a peace deal with government before.

The Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas (RPMP) said the agreement ignites “high hopes for a bright path of reconciliation and collaboration between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the interest of peace, justice and progress of the Muslim people and the broad masses in Mindanao...”

In a statement, the RPMP said that the CAB, “manifests their genuine and shared interest to uphold and work for the interest of the people.”

“This signing heralds a historic step that will undertake the immense task of healing wounds of a decades-long armed conflict rooted in the centuries-old social injustice wrought by colonization on the early peoples of our country that still resonates and affects Mindanao and the whole Philippines,” the RPMP added.

The group said that with the CAB signed, the next stage is “the equally challenging work of instituting reforms and changes so that democracy that values pluralism and social justice may truly bring about progress and development to all, especially to the Bangsamoro people.”

Gabino Ganggangan, Secretary-General of the Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBA), which grew out of the once Cordillera People’s Liberation Army, said the CAB "is a milestone in our nation’s history that shall be remembered as a day when the whole country stood up for peace in the Southern Philippines."

Ganggangan cited that the CAB is “a hopeful attempt to finally resolve the four decades conflict in Mindanao that spelled hundreds if not thousands of Filipino lives.”

“A similar yet very unique track of the implementation of the CAB will more so be challenging. The Cordillera Bodong Administration shall stand with the Bangsamoro as they chart this track and shape a region that shall be a model of unity despite diversity of cultures,” the CBA statement read.

“As peace-loving Cordillerans also granted a chance on autonomy in the 1987 Philippine Constitution, we are one with the Bangsamoro in welcoming this new chapter for sustainable peace and development that shall bring into reality our collective aspiration for real national upliftment and development in the lives of our peoples,” it added.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 28, 2014.

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