GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 27 March) – City officials declared the signing today of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) by the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels as an important historical breakthrough in Mindanao’s journey to peace.
Mayor Ronnel Rivera said the city government is joining the majority of the people in Mindanao in celebrating the finalization of the CAB, which he described as a vital step towards the realization of a genuine and lasting peace in the island.
He said the agreement is no less than a manifestation of the government and MILF’s sincerity and commitment to end the violent conflicts in Mindanao that has been challenging the country for decades.
The signing of the agreement, which came 18 months after the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed, marks an important milestone “as we move forward to the next phase of the peace process – the implementation (stage),” he said.
“The CAB is a victory – it is everyone’s victory. It is a victory not only for the Bangsamoro, but for all of us who have been working for peace,” Rivera said in a statement.
The government and MILF peace panels are scheduled to sign the CAB this afternoon in a ceremony at Malacañang.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles earlier said they are expecting at least 1,000 people to grace the CAB’s signing, including foreign dignitaries.
The CAB puts together all the agreements signed by both parties: the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the four Annexes and the Addendum, the Ceasefire Agreement of 1997, the Tripoli Agreement in 2001, among others.
It provides for the creation of the Bangsamoro region that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao once the Bangsamoro Basic Law is passed by Congress and ratified by the constituents in a plebiscite.
Rivera said the agreement seeks to address the long-standing struggle of the Bangsamoro people for recognition and self-determination.
He said it paves a way for the establishment of a society where good governance, social equity, economic prosperity, rule of law, and peaceful co-existence of the tri-people are norms.
The mayor said it signals that “we are a step closer to the achievement of our dream…. Our dream of living in a just and peaceful community, where stories of war and violence are just distant memories.”
“This administration is committed to continuously work in engaging everyone in our pursuit towards achieving that shared dream,” Rivera added.
Meantime, hundreds of residents have started to gather at the oval plaza covered court here to celebrate the signing of the CAB.
Local officials and peace groups have organized a “Kanduli for Peace” at 2 p.m. at the venue in line with the historic event.
Organizers said the activity will include a live streaming of the actual signing of the peace agreement in Malacañang.
Moro residents in Sarangani and South Cotabato provinces are also launching peace caravans in celebration of the CAB signing.