Davaoeños stage symbolic signing of Framework Agreement

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 Oct) – Members of the Moro communities from this city and in the greater Davao area, as well as members of civil society organizations and the military, expressed their support for the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front by joining a symbolic signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro coinciding with the Monday afternoon signing in Malacañang.

PLEDGE. A Moro woman joins in the symbolic signing of the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement at the Freedom Park in Davao City on Oct. 15, 2012. Participants in the symbolic signing pledgeed to support the call for peace in Mindanao. MindaNews photo by Ruby Thursday More About 500 people gathered at the Freedom Park here as they affixed their signatures on a giant copy of the Framework Agreement printed on tarpaulin.

Moro women wore black abaya and green hijab to represent their struggle and aspiration for peace in Mindanao.

Lyndee Prieto, of the Mindanao Peaceweavers secretariat, said although it is understandable that the signing of Framework Agreement was held in the Malacanan Palace, the groups sought for a version of the signing here, thus they initiated the activity dubbed “Davao duyog sa kalinaw.”

She said the ceremonial signing that ended with a festive mood was also participated in by the academe, such as the Ateneo de Davao University, non-government organizations, the Eastern Mindanao Command and Task Force Davao.

The agreement, she said, is a milestone and “needs to be supported through and through although according to some government officials, it has imperfections.”

“We also need to welcome the new political entity,” she told MindaNews, adding that the entire nation has to be involved in the process as most people outside the zone of conflict seem to notice Mindanao only when there are bombings and armed encounters.

She added: “Many things have to be discussed. We have to keep our minds open and put things in perspective because we know where we’re heading. We are not yet done. It’s a mother agreement.”

Starjoan D. Villanueva, executive director of the Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao (AFRIM), Inc., in a press statement, said the agreement attests to the success of an inclusive peace process that has opened spaces for broader participation, ownership and accountability.

She congratulated the members of the peace panels of both parties for their “relentless efforts, patience and dedication, as well as their ability to listen to the different voices and concerns as raised by various interest groups and stakeholders during the months of ‘marathon’ consultations and ‘endless’ dialogues that finally led to this momentous occasion.”

While the agreement provides the general direction towards a collective vision for peace in Mindanao, she continued, the road map has yet to be crafted in the coming months and years of transition.

She said the content of the agreement, particularly on the power and wealth sharing, and the tedious process of decommissioning of weapons, are critical in the agenda.

“As we all know, we had travelled this road before in 1996. And from experience, we learned that signing a peace agreement is the easiest step to take. Thus, we hope that the inclusiveness of the process will continue and be sustained as we reiterate our commitment to support the crafting and implementation of a comprehensive peace agreement,” she said.

Gabriel Palma, regional chairperson of the United Youth for Peace and Development, said it is important for both parties to implement all provisions in the framework agreement, otherwise the conflict would not be resolved.

He mentioned that there are lessons in the past and the solution to the conflict in Mindanao is already in the Framework Agreement.

He added that non-government organizations and representation of the people will be vigilant with the whole process, including the creation of the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro entity.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law will be drafted by the transition commission that will be composed of 15 members, who are all Bangsamoro. Seven  of whom will be selected by the GPH, and eight will be selected by the MILF.

The Framework Agreement states that the Basic Law shall be ratified by qualified voters within the territory of the Bangsamoro. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro / MindaNews)