Sunday, October 14, 2012

500 Mindanao peace advocates won't leave Mendiola until GPH, MILF ink Bangsamoro framework pact

More than 500 peace advocates have marched from the cities of Marawi and Cotabato in Mindanao to Mendiola St. in Manila to hold a peace vigil Sunday evening until the historic signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro creation between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Monday.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, in a radio interview, said these peace advocates are part of civil society organizations who have closely monitored the peace process for years.

"More than monitoring the peace process, sila po ‘yung kumakalinga doon sa mga pamilya that have been displaced sa mga evacuation centers at patuloy po ‘yan. They continue to work with both sides to facilitate openness in discourse," she noted.

Representatives from peace networks, Church, civil society groups, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have joined the peace caravan and vowed not to leave Mendiola until the Framework Agreement is signed.

Valte said the signing of the agreement will be held at 1:30 p.m. Monday in Malacanang.

No less than Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak will arrive in the Philippines, his first visit to the country since he assumed office as prime minister in 2009, to witness the signing of the Framework Agreement.

Malaysia has served as third-party facilitator of the peace talks between the Philippine government and the MILF peace panels since 2001, and head of the International Monitoring Team since 2004.

Malacanang also confirmed that MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim will also witness the signing of the agreement.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita "Ging" Deles earlier said this will be the first time that the MILF leadership and adherents will set foot inside the Palace.

"That first step alone signifies a giant leap in the relations between the two sides," she said.

Also invited to witness the signing are representatives from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (formerly Organization of Islamic Conference), the International Monitoring Team, the International Contact Group, and different embassies and consulates, as well as international civil organizations.

"It is our time for peace, and we now have a framework agreement that all Filipinos can be proud of," said Deles.

Pendatun Disimban said the peace caravan was organized to "show our jubilation and optimism that a lasting and permanent peace will now dawn in Mindanao."

Mindanao People's Caucus liaison officer Mariel Andrea Gardiola, for her part, said they traveled by land and sea and spent long days and nights of travel "to show our deep gratitude and thanksgiving that we have finally reached the light at the end of the long dark tunnel."

"We represent the hopes and dreams of the civilians in the conflict-affected areas who have never expected this victory for peace could still happen in this generation. It is only through God's wisdom and boundless generosity that we are given this opportunity to reconcile as brothers and sisters. This is a legacy President Aquino has finally fulfilled," she said. -Interaksyon (October 14, 2012 4:48PM)

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