BANGSAMORO DEAL SEALED; DELES BROKE OUT IN TEARS

MARCH 27 -The government under President Benigno Aquino III and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro on Thursday as the first step in the creation of a new region that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Government Peace Panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and MILF lead negotiator Mohager Iqbal signed the five-page, 12-point document that seals previously agreed upon documents and annexes, namely: Ceasefire Agreement of 1997 Agreement on Peace signed in 2001 in Tripoli Declaration of Continuity of Negotiations in June 2010 Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth-Sharing Annex on Power Sharing Annex on Normalization Addendum on Bangsamoro Waters Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro The signing was witnessed by over 1,000 people in the Palace grounds including Aquino, MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process Teresita Deles. The signed agreement is hoped to lead to lasting peace in Mindanao by making legitimate the MILF's cry for autonomy and end fighting between the rebel forces and the military. The text contains affirmation of principles shared by both sides of the negotiations such as finding a "solution to the Bangsamoro question" and recognition and enhancements of the "rights of the Bangsamoro people." Deles, who broke out in tears, vowed that no family will have to suffer from the ravages and dangers of armed fighting once the Bangsamoro is in place. READ MORE

ALSO: MILF rebels celebrate: ‘Allahu Akbar’

AN ESTIMATED 6,000 Bangsamoro supporters join a prayer rally in Banggolo,Marawi City, on Thursday to celebrate the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. Fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao province, fell silent as the final peace deal was being signed in Manila. But the fighters chanted “Allahu Akbar (Allah is great)!” immediately after the signing was officially declared. Some fighters also waved their hats in celebration while others threw these in the air. Some 10,000 fighters and supporters gathered under colorful tents in Camp Darapanan as they closely monitored the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). Nasrullah Abdullah, administrative officer of the operation department of the MILF, said the atmosphere of hope and optimism had overshadowed the military character of the rebel group’s main camp.

ALSO: MILF chief: Bangsamoro deal also for MNLF

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim vowed to share the "victory" of the cause for autonomy with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), from which the rebel group separated. "The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is not only for the MILF, it is for the MNLF as well," Murad said in his speech in the signing of the 15-page document between the MILF and the government in Malacañang on Thursday. "As much as it is for all the Muslim ethnic tribes, the Christian settlers and the indigenous settlers in the prospective Bangsamoro government territory," he continued. The MILF leader said that the armed group will abandon fighting and would act as a "gatekeeper" during the transition period between Thursday's signing and the election for Bangsamoro government in 2016. "After such period the keys to the gate will be willingly handed over to the democratic will of the Bangsamoro," Murad said. He also allayed fears that the MILF will secure positions of leadership for itself in the new Bangsamoro region. "I would like to impress on all of you that the MILF does not and would never claim sole ownership of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro," Murad said. "It will not be a government of the MILF but a government of the Bangsamoro ... Its successes will inevitably reverberate beyond the Bangsamoro homeland," he added. Murad said that the group's decision to negotiate with the government takes off from the 1996 Final Peace Agreement taken by the MNLF that established the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

ALSO: Bangsamoro accord signing ceremony kicks off

The program for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) kicked off past 4 p.m. Thursday at Malacañang Palace. More than a thousand people filled the expansive tent set up on Malacañang grounds while hundreds of Muslim groups gathered in Quiapo in anticipation of the historic event, which will culminate in the Philippine government and the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signing the final peace accord. As of posting time, Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, was delivering a speech. She will be followed by MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ibrahim and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. After President Benigno Aquino III’s speech, the government and MILF peace panel heads, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer for the government side and Mohagher Iqbal for the MILF, will sign the five-page CAB. Malaysian third party facilitator Tengku Dato Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed will serve as witness. Meanwhile, simultaneous activities were being held in various parts of Mindanao. In Cotabato City, people launched a peace rally at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex while the ARMM had its own “Peacetahan” festival, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said. Similar events were held in Marawi City, General Santos and Maguindanao.MILF forces held their own celebration at Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat.
The signing of the CAB marks the culmination of the 17 years of peace negotiations between the two parties and the supposed end to decades of armed conflict in Mindanao. It will pave the way for a new Bangsamoro autonomous political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and will address various issues in the area such as poverty.

ALSO: Kris to welcome Malaysian PM; reads up on peace deal

Television host Kris Aquino on Thursday morning did a brief reading on the final peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as she has been invited by his big brother, President Benigno Aquino III, to joint the welcoming party for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.  "Got up early to do my reading on this historical event," Aquino said in an Instagram post bearing a graphic quoting Bible that says "Blessed are the peacemakers." Aquino said that she was invited to be in the welcoming committee in Malacañang. She regularly attends official events at the Palace. "Privileged to have been assigned to join PNoy in welcoming Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Datin Rosmah and other distinguished guests," Aquino said.


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Bangsamoro deal sealed


Decading in the making, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed at the grounds of Malacañan Palace on Thursday, March 27, 2014. Rhea Pauline Catada/OPAPP

MANILA, MARCH 31, 2014 (PHILSTAR)  By Camille Diola - The government under President Benigno Aquino III and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro on Thursday as the first step in the creation of a new region that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Government Peace Panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and MILF lead negotiator Mohager Iqbal signed the five-page, 12-point document that seals previously agreed upon documents and annexes, namely:

Ceasefire Agreement of 1997
Agreement on Peace signed in 2001 in Tripoli
Declaration of Continuity of Negotiations in June 2010
Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities
Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth-Sharing
Annex on Power Sharing Annex on Normalization
Addendum on Bangsamoro Waters
Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro

The signing was witnessed by over 1,000 people in the Palace grounds including Aquino, MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process Teresita Deles.

The signed agreement is hoped to lead to lasting peace in Mindanao by making legitimate the MILF's cry for autonomy and end fighting between the rebel forces and the military.

The text contains affirmation of principles shared by both sides of the negotiations such as finding a "solution to the Bangsamoro question" and recognition and enhancements of the "rights of the Bangsamoro people."

Deles, who broke out in tears, vowed that no family will have to suffer from the ravages and dangers of armed fighting once the Bangsamoro is in place.

"Tama na we are all tired of [war]. I new dawn has come," Deles said in a speech to open the ceremony.

"Today we embrace peace with a crushing might of a people and banished war with the power of a nation united," she also said.

Read: Deles in tears, declares 'no more war'

Murad, meanwhile, said the MILF, a breakaway of the Moro National Liberation Front, will share the "victory" with the original group.

Coronel-Ferrer had said the crafting of the documents took "18 months" and had a slow start, but eventually picked up speed.

"There is no turning back. Only moving decisively forward. The peace train is on track. Its design is complete. Most of its elements are in place," she said.

MILF rebels celebrate: ‘Allahu Akbar’ Inquirer Mindanao 1:16 am | Friday, March 28th, 2014 6


AN ESTIMATED 6,000 Bangsamoro supporters join a prayer rally in Banggolo,Marawi City, on Thursday to celebrate the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. RICHEL V. UMEL / INQUIRER MINDANAO

SULTAN KUDARAT -
Fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao province, fell silent as the final peace deal was being signed in Manila.

But the fighters chanted “Allahu Akbar (Allah is great)!” immediately after the signing was officially declared.
Some fighters also waved their hats in celebration while others threw these in the air.

Some 10,000 fighters and supporters gathered under colorful tents in Camp Darapanan as they closely monitored the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Nasrullah Abdullah, administrative officer of the operation department of the MILF, said the atmosphere of hope and optimism had overshadowed the military character of the rebel group’s main camp.

Festive mood

“The mood is very festive. We are so overwhelmed that members and supporters flocked to the camp. In fact, the attendance today is relatively larger than the attendance during the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (in October last year),” Abdullah said.

Local leaders and commanders gave speeches expressing joy and determination to safeguard the agreement to ensure its full implementation.

Kites in Manila



In Manila, kite flyers and enthusiasts gathered at Rizal Park for the symbolic release of kites for peace to dramatize their support for the signing of the CAB.

Two hours before the signing of the agreement, members of the Kites Association of the Philippines (KAP), together with the National Youth Commission (NYC), the Young Moro Professionals Network (YMPN) and the OFWs for Peace, flew insect-shaped and statement kites at Burnham Green, the parade grounds of the park around 2 p.m.

A kite with the text “Fly high Pinas” adorned the sky beside the Quirino Grandstand along with other colorful kites that were flown to celebrate the historic signing of the peace agreement.

“This ‘Kites for Peace’ is our humble expression of support for peace in our country,” said KAP president Orlando Ongkinco.

The tradition of flying kites, according to YMPN coconvenor for peace committee Arman Disomimba, is very popular among Muslim children and youth, especially those from Tawi-Tawi.

“We call kite flying ‘layang layang’ and for us it symbolizes peace, unity, hope and recovery,” Disomimba said.

Breakaway group


Moro Islamic Liberation Front AFP FILE PHOTO

It was another normal day in areas influenced by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, an MILF breakaway group, in several towns in Maguindanao and North Cotabato, said rebel spokesperson Abu Misry Mama.

“I am not saying this because we want to criticize the signing, but this is the reality here. There are almost no green flags except for a few houses who are die-hard MILF members,” Mama said.

Mama said there was no reason for the people in the communities to celebrate because the agreement was compromised as it favored the government.

“And they should remember that the signing is not the end. It would still go through many processes, including that of Congress. The celebration today is a waste of money. They should have instead used it for social programs that would directly benefit Moro communities,” Mama said.

Mama added that MILF members in their territories should not worry about safety because they would not be harmed unless they participate in military operations against them.

In Marawi City, close to 6,000 Maranaws gathered at the Cabili Plaza in the village of Banggolo to show their support for the CAB.


The Bangsamoro National Movement for Peace and Development prays for the tragic loss of the Malaysian airlines MH370 after their peace caravan for the signing of Comprehensive Bangsamoro Agreement outside of the Golden Mosque in Quiapo.

Col. Glenn Macasero, commanding officer of 103rd Brigade, said Army troops were deployed to secure the crowd.
After the prayer rally, the crowd was expected to go to the provincial capitol grounds for the Kalilang (cultural festivities).
Disinformation campaign

Three provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao were also in a festive mood. The celebrations in Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu, however, had nothing to do with the signing of the CAB. Residents there were holding postgraduation parties.

Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali said she was invited to witness the signing in Malacañang, but had to beg off and instead send her father, Gov. Sadikul Sahali, “because we are all preoccupied here attending graduation celebrations.”

“The people of Tawi-Tawi are celebrating the graduation of their children now. It’s being done all over the province,” Sahali told the Inquirer in a phone interview.

“I am here in Bongao (capital town of Tawi-Tawi) for the series of graduation exercises since last week, and my people are more preoccupied and excited about graduation,” she added.

Sahali said there was a “very high disinformation campaign” against the MILF in her province. She refused to elaborate.

Caravan in Basilan

In Isabela City, Basilan, a 50-vehicle caravan was held on Thursday morning. Another motorcade was held in Lamitan City.

But Isabela City Mayor Cherrylyn Akbar said she had asked the MILF supporters to make their activity short “because we don’t want to cause unnecessary fear or panic among parents, teachers and students.”

More development
In Tagum City, Davao del Norte, far from the areas covered by the Bangsamoro entity, some 700 Muslims trooped to the local park to show their support for the CAB.

For 59-year old Rosita Colas, the CAB would spell more development in Muslim communities.

Southern Mindanao is not included in the new entity.

Colas said she had heard “many good things” about the framework agreement from their imams and other religious leaders, so she and her husband, who works for local power utility Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative, joined others from their community to attend the rally at the Rotary Park in Poblacion village.

Muslims belonging to various tribes from Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental attended the rally, said Abdul Rasad Sawat, regional institutional development officer of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA).

The BDA is an office set up by the government to oversee the rehabilitation of areas affected by the decades-old conflict that stemmed from the Muslim secessionist rebellion.

“What we’re doing now is an information drive aimed not only for the Muslims but including our Christian and lumad (indigenous people) brethren,” said Sawat.

“We want them to know more about the CAB and its benefits, and not necessarily compel people to support the initiative.”—Reports from Karlos Manlupig, Julie S. Alipala, Richel V. Umel and Frinston L. Lim, Inquirer Mindanao; and Maricar B. Brizuela in Manila

MILF chief: Bangsamoro deal also for MNLF By Camille Diola (philstar.com) | Updated March 27, 2014 - 6:09pm 4 57 googleplus0 0


Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, as projected on screen at the Palace ground on Thursday, speaks before the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. GovPH

MANILA, Philippines — Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim vowed to share the "victory" of the cause for autonomy with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), from which the rebel group separated.

"The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is not only for the MILF, it is for the MNLF as well," Murad said in his speech in the signing of the 15-page document between the MILF and the government in Malacañang on Thursday.

"As much as it is for all the Muslim ethnic tribes, the Christian settlers and the indigenous settlers in the prospective Bangsamoro government territory," he continued.

The MILF leader said that the armed group will abandon fighting and would act as a "gatekeeper" during the transition period between Thursday's signing and the election for Bangsamoro government in 2016.

"After such period the keys to the gate will be willingly handed over to the democratic will of the Bangsamoro," Murad said.

He also allayed fears that the MILF will secure positions of leadership for itself in the new Bangsamoro region.

"I would like to impress on all of you that the MILF does not and would never claim sole ownership of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro," Murad said.

"It will not be a government of the MILF but a government of the Bangsamoro ... Its successes will inevitably reverberate beyond the Bangsamoro homeland," he added.

Murad said that the group's decision to negotiate with the government takes off from the 1996 Final Peace Agreement taken by the MNLF that established the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

"The MILF recognizes as a milestone the 1996 GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement but its inherent flaws, weaknesses and failure for the last 18 years but not hinder the MILF for securing for the Bangsamoro a far better negotiated political settlement," he said.

The signing of the agreement would pave the way for the creation of a new regional entity that would replace the ARMM. The Transition Commission has started drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will be presented by the Palace to Congress for approval.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Bangsamoro accord signing ceremony kicks off By Kristine Angeli Sabillo
INQUIRER.net 4:21 pm | Thursday, March 27th, 2014


President Benigno S. Aquino III huddles with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), led by its chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, for a group photo souvenir during the Courtesy Call at the President’s Hall of the Malacañan Palace on Thursday, March 27, 2014. Photo by Ryan Lim/Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – The program for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) kicked off past 4 p.m. Thursday at Malacañang Palace.

More than a thousand people filled the expansive tent set up on Malacañang grounds while hundreds of Muslim groups gathered in Quiapo in anticipation of the historic event, which will culminate in the Philippine government and the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signing the final peace accord.

As of posting time, Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, was delivering a speech.
She will be followed by MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ibrahim and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

After President Benigno Aquino III’s speech, the government and MILF peace panel heads, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer for the government side and Mohagher Iqbal for the MILF, will sign the five-page CAB. Malaysian third party facilitator Tengku Dato Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed will serve as witness.

Meanwhile, simultaneous activities were being held in various parts of Mindanao. In Cotabato City, people launched a peace rally at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex while the ARMM had its own “Peacetahan” festival, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said. Similar events were held in Marawi City, General Santos and Maguindanao.

MILF forces held their own celebration at Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat.

The signing of the CAB marks the culmination of the 17 years of peace negotiations between the two parties and the supposed end to decades of armed conflict in Mindanao. It will pave the way for a new Bangsamoro autonomous political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and will address various issues in the area such as poverty.

The agreement has been lauded by many local and foreign groups.

Ferrer called it the country’s “global contribution to the pursuit of peace.”

“Many other countries [that] face similar troubles are looking up to us to show the way or possible modalities by which they can also address their own domestic conflicts. Our experience, our mechanisms, our approaches have become a rich source of inspiration to these countries that remain challenged by different sources of domestic hostility,” she said on Tuesday.

Kris to welcome Malaysian PM; reads up on peace deal (philstar.com) | Updated March 27, 2014 - 1:35pm 13 166 googleplus0 0


Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak and presidential sister Kris Aquino

MANILA, Philippines — Television host Kris Aquino on Thursday morning did a brief reading on the final peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as she has been invited by his big brother, President Benigno Aquino III, to joint the welcoming party for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

"Got up early to do my reading on this historical event," Aquino said in an Instagram post bearing a graphic quoting Bible that says "Blessed are the peacemakers."

Aquino said that she was invited to be in the welcoming committee in Malacañang. She regularly attends official events at the Palace.

"Privileged to have been assigned to join PNoy in welcoming Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Datin Rosmah and other distinguished guests," Aquino said.

Her Instagram post earned over 5,500 likes as of midday.

Razak, meanwhile, arrived at the Villamor Air Base at 12:50 p.m. on Thursday and is scheduled to hold a meeting with the President to discuss bilateral issues.

He will also personally witness the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro scheduled at 4 p.m. today.

Malaysia has played a vital role in the peace talks between the government and the rebel group. - Camille Diola


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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