MANILA, Philippines – A nationwide peace caravan from various parts of Mindanao is now headed for Manila to witness the signing of the framework agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Monday.
The caravan, dubbed “Lakbay Kalinaw”, is led by Muslim and Christian peace advocates from Cotabato, Marawi, Maguindanao and Davao City to show their support for the agreement that aims to bring lasting peace in the south.
Lakbay Kalinaw coordinator Pendatun Disimban said a prayer vigil will be held at the Chino Roces Bridge in Manila Saturday night.
A “peace concert,” meanwhile, will be held on Sunday.
According to Atty. Mary Ann Arnado, secretary general of the Mindanao People Caucus, more advocates wanted to join the peace caravan but lack of funds became a hindrance.
President Benigno Aquino III announced the agreement in a speech last Sunday, saying the the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was “a failed experiment” that gave rise to alienation among the Muslims.
The President said the new entity, which will be called Bangsamoro, will undergo public discussions and a consequent plebiscite and elections to give all stakeholders a chance to share their views.
The Bangsamoro will have its own cultural and political identity, but it will not be considered a separate state.
Authorities, meanwhile, are on heightened alert in Metro Manila ahead of the historic signing of the peace agreement.
Athough there is no specific threat, the police said the heightened alert is meant to ensure the security of arriving foreign dignitaries.
Among the VIPs attending the event are Malaysia's foreign minister and MILF leader Al Haj Murad.
The landmark framework agreement with the MILF aims to end decades of conflict in the south. -- Reports from Dexter Ganibe, dzMM; ANC