Bangsamoro deal signing just a start: civil society group

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 27 2014 12:33 PM | Updated as of Mar 27 2014 08:34 PM

 

MANILA - Civil society group the Bangsamoro National Movement for Peace and Development said efforts for peace should not end after the Bangsamoro deal signing.

Drieza Lininding, the group's communication officer, said all Filipinos should back the deal because peace will benefit the economy.

"I'm appealing to all Filipinos to support this peace agreement and process because it affects all of us. Malaki ang nawawala sa Pilipinas dahil sa conflict sa Mindanao," he said in an interview on [email protected]

"Gusto nating siguraduhin eto hindi matulad sa mga unang peace agreement like 1996 final peace agreement. Tutukan natin kung ano pinirmahan nila," he added.

Lininding said they are hopeful the peace deal will have better results compared to previous pacts between the government and other Bangsamoro groups.

"Natatakot ako na baka itong agreement ay tulad lang ng ibang agreement eh after mapirmihan eh hindi rin ma-implement. Sa side naman ng gobyerno, lagi nadidinig na sectors baka yung Bangsamoro mag-secede o humiwalay. Kailangan nating i-compromise eto. Napakalaking factor na yung mga kapatid natin sa MILF na pumayag sa agreement na eto kasi kung magbabalik tanaw natin ang sakripisyo dito hindi lang pawis buhay ng libong Pilipino ang nabuwis dito. Daan-daang pamilya ang nasira ang buhay," he said.

The biggest Moro rebel group in the Philippines will sign a peace deal on Thursday aimed at ending four decades of deadly conflict that has condemned millions in the nation's far south to brutal poverty.

The agreement between the MILF and President Benigno Aquino's government envisages a new, southern autonomous region for the Philippines' Muslim minority with locally elected leaders by mid-2016.

"For many years we have been leading the Bangsamoro people's struggle and our people have gone through a lot of hardships," MILF vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar told AFP, using a local term for the Philippines' Muslim minority.

"This agreement is very important to us because this ends the fighting in Mindanao."

Moro rebels have been battling since the 1970s for independence or autonomy in the southern region of Mindanao, which they regard as their ancestral homeland.

The conflict has left tens of thousands of people dead while Mindanao has become one of the nation's poorest and most corrupt areas, with Muslim and Christian warlords ruling over large parts.

The fighting and poverty has also proved to be fertile conditions for Islamic extremism, with the Al-Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf group and other hardline militants making remote regions of Mindanao their strongholds.

Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said the historic agreement is important not only for the Bangsamoro and the people of Mindanao, but for all Filipinos.

She added the agreement will inspire other countries that face similar troubles.

The five-page document will be signed in Malacañang by the GPH and MILF panel members in the presence of more than 1,000 guests from various sectors of society.

Also expected to witness the event is Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose country facilitated the talks.

But the work doesn't end with the signing, Coronel-Ferrer said.

"It's like a graduation ceremony, you finish one phase, you move on to the next which is the real world. that's when we have to move forward to make everything that we talked about real in the lives of the people," Coronel-Ferrer told ANC Headstart.

Ferrer stressed that the agreement will only be successful if trust between government and the MILF is maintained, and if both parties fulfill their commitments.

Both panels aim to have the Bangsamoro Basic Law passed in the first quarter of 2015.

"This project really requires very strong partnership, my counterpart Mohagher Iqbal in the MILF said the greatest threat to this agreement can come from either party if one reneges on the terms or is unable to rally their respective forces, on the part of government and the different commanders who will actually be with us today during the signing," she said. – with ANC