Thousands in former war-torn NorthCot town celebrate CAB signing

PIKIT, North Cotabato (MindaNews / 27 March) – Thousands of Moro men and women gathered at the town plaza here to celebrate the signing of the of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) this afternoon.

As of 12 noon, organizers have recorded 8,000 people coming from different parts of the province. They came on trucks, jeepneys, tricycles and motorcycles.

The gate is manned by men wearing black shirts printed with “Provincial Police Force,” who randomly checks backpacks of those going inside the venue.

Participants were required to register and donate any amount to help defray expenses for the snacks and meals.

As a tradition, the men and women entered and sat separately from each other. They were divided by a nylon rope.

Many of them sat on the pavement in front of the plaza’s stage where four colorful parabolic tents were erected.

But amid the scorching heat of the sun, they stayed and listened to the speakers who gave updates on the peace process.

Organizers announced that the actual signing of the peace deal in Malacañang will be shown live on a widescreen.

Saguira Nawal, 42, told MindaNews that she is excited to witness the signing via widescreen.

Nawal, who came from Barangay Langogan, said they arrived as early as 8:30 a.m. on board a sugar cane hauler truck, which they hired from the town of Carmen.

“We contributed P30 to P50 each just to join our brothers and sisters in this very important occasion,” she said in the vernacular.

At the back of the stage, some Moro women were seen preparing bread and juice for snacks. They told MindaNews that the snacks were donated by local traders while the patil for lunch were donated by the mayor.

Green streamers marked “Mabuhay ang Bangsamoro Government” were mounted on the fence of the town plaza, on trucks and even outside some business establishments.

Early this morning, a caravan was held from the municipality of Kabacan to Matalam, a distance of 10 kilometers. Most of the participants wore green shirts for men and green hijabs (veil) or green abaya (the traditional robe-like dress) for women.

Motorcycles and tricycles that were used in the caravan were decorated with green flaglets on the handle bars and side mirrors.