Today the GPH and the MILF jointly signed the Annex on Normalization, the last of the four Annexes to the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), which was completed on 15 October 2012. This paves the way for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). This is indeed a long-awaited moment that is a gift to our people at the start of a new year of renewed hope and commitment.
It has been a very difficult road arriving at this major milestone of the peace process. The crafting of each of the four Annexes, together with the additional Addendum on Bangsamoro Waters, underwent painstaking deliberation by the two parties, backed up by thorough discussion and internal consensus-building on each side of the negotiating table, and grounded on extensive consultations with concerned local government units, religious and civil society leaders, and communities especially in the conflict-affected areas. 2013 saw very serious challenges to the peace process which both sides were able to overcome with deep faith that, indeed, peace is possible for those who persist and persevere.
On the side of GPH, the work of our negotiating panel always included rigorous study and due diligence undertaken with concerned Cabinet members and agency heads who pushed and pulled to extend the limits of possibilities for good and democratic governance in the area of autonomy. In crafting the annexes, the GPH panel sought at every point to abide by the President's instructions that all peace agreements to be signed must be consistent with the constitution, including its flexibilities; must reflect the hard lessons learned from our past peacemaking efforts; and must be in accordance with the capacity of the parties to deliver politically, economically, culturally and in all ways necessary.
It has been a difficult road getting to here and we know that the path ahead will continue to be fraught with challenges. As we celebrate this moment, we also affirm our readiness to undertake the tasks that shall ensure the full and satisfactory implementation of this agreement, together with the MILF, other
partners and stakeholders.
In moving forward, our legislators will take on the crucial role of enacting the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which the Bangsamoro Transition Commission is now drafting. There will be new arrangements and mechanisms set up for the GPH and the MILF, assisted by selected third-parties and independent bodies, to work together on the multiple tracks that will ensure the transformation of MILF forces and conflict-affected communities from the harsh ways of war to the nurturance of partnership and cooperation - all these to unleash the unlimited potentials for the development of Mindanao, especially for the communities so long left behind.
President Aquino's vision and compassion and his love and resolve for Mindanao has brought us to this new era of the Bangsamoro, where dreams of peace and prosperity may begin to overcome the nightmares of the past.
We thank and commend the GPH and the MILF panels and all the members of their teams for their patience and creativity and for remaining steadfast in their roles as problem-solvers and peacemakers. We thank MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad and the members of the MILF Central Committee for the trust and commitment to see the negotiations and the subsequent implementation of the FAB to completion.
Lastly, we acknowledge with deep gratitude our Malaysian facilitator, Tengku Dato Abdul Ghafar, together with his hard-working secretariat, and the government of Malaysia for their hospitality and fraternal guidance, as the third-party facilitator for the peace talks. To our fellow advocates and partners in the international community, especially the members of the International Contact Group: Thank-you for bearing with us in keeping the faith.
In a world looking for peaceful solutions to all troubles, we are grateful that we have found ours. Let us all seal it - and nurture it. The best is yet to come.