Groups support signing of framework agreement

By Queenie Casimiro, ABS CBN News Zamboanga

Posted at Oct 14 2012 04:48 PM | Updated as of Oct 15 2012 12:48 AM

ZAMBOANGA – Various groups in Zamboanga City and neighboring provinces convened to express their support to the signing of the framework agreement on the Bangsamoro between the peace panels of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Monday.

Civil society organizations, people's organizations and non-government organizations gathered in a forum where they all shared their thoughts in support of the scheduled signing tomorrow.

Sitti Rahma Sakaluran Mohammad, representing the women's sector said this development in the peace negotiations should be given a chance by everyone.

"Bakit hindi natin bigyan ng change?" Mohammad asked. "Only then will we know if this is the solution to the problem of the Bangsamoro that we have been looking for."

Mohammad assured those who are against the framework agreement that "this is just 'framework', lalagyan pa ng meat and teeth sa pamamagitan ng basic law na dadaan sa Kongreso."

Atty. Nazir Ynawat, meanwhile, said that based on the 13-page document, "there is nothing there that runs contrary to the Constitution."

Ynawat also said both panels appear to be sincere and committed to sign an agreement.

Their comments followed the forum initiated by the local government of Zamboanga on Friday, calling for the deferment of the signing of the framework agreement on Monday.

City Mayor Celso Lobregat said there are still several provisions that they want clarified such as boundaries between Bangsamoro areas and non-Bangsamoro areas and their municipal waters.

While Ynawat said they understand where the mayor is coming from, he still expressed optimism that the government will surely protect the interest of the republic.

Meanwhile, Amirah Lidasan of the Suara Bangsamoro said that although they also support of tomorrow's signing, they remain vigilant and are more concerned on how the present administration will use the agreement for its own end.

Lidasan said since President Benigno Aquino III made his announcement last week, the government peace panel and the military hammered on the necessity of "decommissioning" the MILF after the signing, which falls on the normalization part of the agreement.

Lidasan said the decommissioning of the MILF must also come with the withdrawal of military forces in the area.

Most of these groups said they will be staying in the local community to observe as the MILF leadership will be trooping to Malacanian on Monday for the historical signing of the framework agreement.