Mindanawons hold rallies in support of GPH-MILF peace process

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 29 January) – At least 500 residents here turned up in the streets on Wednesday to throw support and solidarity to the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)

Simultaneous peace rallies were held in the cities of Zamboanga, Davao, Iligan Marawi and General Santos.

Dubbed “Drums for Peace,” participants belonging to various civil society organizations (CSOs) played agongs and kulintangs to call for continuing support to the GPH-MILF peace process beyond the signing of the Annex on Normalization. Normalization is the last of the four annexes of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). The previously signed annexes were the Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing, and Power Sharing.

The FAB and the four annexes shall comprise the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the final peace agreement that the GPH and MILF expect to sign soon.

“The signing of the Annex on Normalization is a very important milestone in the ongoing GPH-MILF peace process. It is an initial victory of the peace process vis-à-vis the hard bargaining and dragging negotiations,” Guiamel Alim, chairman of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, Inc., said.

“The Annex on Normalization contains the roadmap of transforming violence into peace and development,” he added.

With still great challenges ahead, Alim said his group is committed to accompany the peace process until peace is finally attained in the transition period and beyond.

“As the negotiation is entering another milestone, we call for all and sundry to sustain their support to the ongoing peace process beyond the signing of all the annexes. Lest we forget, there are more challenging steps still ahead,” he said.

Abdulbasit “Bobby” Benito, Bangsamoro Center for Just Peace executive director, lauded President Benigno S. Aquino III and MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim for choosing the path of peace in finding solution to the Bangsamoro problem.

“We are fully supportive of the peace process between the GPH and the MILF and we congratulate the peace panels for signing the last annex on normalization,” he said.

As a show of support to the peace process following the signing of the normalization annex, participants in the peace rally in this city held a kanduli (thanksgiving) at the city plaza before marching to the streets, causing traffic jam in the downtown proper.

“What we are doing is drumbeating our quest for peace and we will continue with this kind of activity and mobilization until the signing of the final peace agreement,” Benito said.

The peace rallies around Mindanao were conducted under the Mindanao Civil Society Organizations Platform for Peace (MCSOPP), which is composed of 120 groups and networks. The platform was tapped by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, the body tasked by the GPH and MILF peace panels to craft the Bangsamoro Basic Law, to conduct consultations to help the drafting of the Bangsamoro charter.

A Joint Statement from the Pailig Development Foundation, Inc., CSO Forum for Peace, Mindanao Peoples Caucus, MCSOPP, EcoWEB, Inc., MSU-IIT Institute for Peace and Dev’t in Mindanao “Celebrating the Successful End to Negotiations! Helping Pave the Way for the Bangsamoro Transition! Supporting the Process of Building Peace in Mindanao!” congratulated the GPH and MILF peace panels, including all the men and women who were involved in the peace negotiations since January 1997.

“The incremental gains from their efforts through the years made possible the successful conclusion of the negotiations,” it said.

“As a commitment to Mindanao peace, let us help pave the way for the successful birth of the Bangsamoro entity. Let us contribute our ideas and thoughts through the public consultations, or through other means like the mass media, to ensure that the charter of the Bangsamoro effectively responds to the needs and aspirations of grassroots communities,” the manifesto stressed.

The manifesto called for unity and vigilance “in ensuring that the dividends of peace will reach the homes of the poorest of the poor, the internally displaced persons who are yet to return to their homes, the war victims and the ordinary Moros, Christians and indigenous peoples who should be at the center of all efforts to implement the peace agreement.”

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2014/01/29/mindanaoans-hold-rallies-in-support-of-gph-milf-peace-process/

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