PIKIT, North Cotabato (MindaNews/28 March) – Salima Tumanday was holding her breath as Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal opened the documents of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that he and government counterpart Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer signed past 5:20 p.m. Thursday.
Just like many other men and women in this town’s plaza, Tumanday was excited to witness the signing of the peace deal projected on a widescreen installed on the wall of the stage.
Some were almost in tears while some were holding each other’s hands.
But their excitement turned to dismay when power suddenly went off due to a daily rotational brownout spoiling the crowd’s celebratory mood.
Everyone immediately stood and waited for a few seconds if a backup generator would be turned on to resume the screening.
One of the organizers asked the crowd to stay because there was a standby generator. But about a minute later, somebody clarified that nobody knew how to use the equipment.
The crowd immediately dispersed and boarded trucks and jeepneys.
Tumanday said she would just watch the replay on their television at home in Barangay Batulawan of this town.
“Okay lang din na nag brownout, basta napirmahan na nila. Masaya na kami,” (The brownout is okay. What’s important is that they have signed it) she told MindaNews.
Tumanday, now in her mid 30s, said they used to live in Barangay Buliok before the war erupted in 2003.
Like many of the villagers, she was not able to return home after their houses were destroyed during the war.
She said she is not yet sure if they would rebuild their homes in Buliok.
About 8,000 Moro men and women gathered in this town’s plaza on Thursday to celebrate the signing of the peace deal, which aims to put an end to four decades of conflict that had displaced millions of civilians.
The crowd came from different parts of the province and many of them arrived as early as 8 a.m. on board trucks, jeepneys and motorcycles.
Most of the Moro women were wearing green hijabs and abayas while some men were seen wearing green shirts.
A student from Kabacan town said some could not afford to buy green shirts because they were sold at prices that were much higher than usual.
“Alam kasi ng mga negosyante na maraming bibili kaya tinaasan nila ng presyo,” he said. (Keith Bacongco /MindaNws)