After more than 40 years and 150,000 lives lost, the Philippine government sealed a peace plan with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in ceremonies at Malacañang Palace on Monday. The signing was witnessed by President Aquino and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, and watched by hundreds of MILF supporters and peace advocates. For many MILF leaders, it was their first time to set foot inside the seat of power of their former enemy.
Elsewhere, the signing was greeted with shouts of joy while others shed tears as they looked forward to lasting peace in the south. In MILF camps in Mindanao, gunfire erupted, although the weapons were not trained at "enemy forces" but at the sky, accompanied by shouts of "Allahu Akbar," a sign of thanksgiving that peace may finally be at hand.
In his speech, President Aquino committed to "a peace that heals and empowers." Murad gave the President a miniature peace gong as a gift signifying a new dawn for the Bangsamoro and the rest of the Filipino people.