MANILA, Philippines – This week, the administration of President Benigno Aquino III takes one step closer to one of its biggest goals.
On Monday, March 24, 3 days before the historic signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), Malacañang released a statement hailing the scheduled signing as “a milestone that heralds one of the final stops on our nation’s journey to a just and lasting peace.” (READ: TIMELINE: The long road to the Bangsamoro region)
“This agreement was borne of the hard work of the negotiating panels, the goodwill and trust between President Aquino and MILF [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] Chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim, and the dedication, openness, and willingness to trust of all stakeholders—Christians, Muslims, and Lumads alike, and all men and women who have supported the process,” the statement said.
“It is a vital step towards one of the Aquino administration’s primary goals: to transform Mindanao from a Land of Promise into a Land of Promises Fulfilled.”
Malacañang said the peace process with the MILF was achieved through “openness and wide-reaching public consultations.” The Bangsamoro Transition Commission is currently drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law, and is expected to be passed as law by year’s end.
The goal is to elect a Bangsamoro government by 2016. The government and the MILF are working under time pressure, because they want the Bangsamoro region to be set up before Aquino steps down from office in 2016.
The 16-year peace talks between the government and the MILF concluded on Saturday, January 25, after both sides agreed on a historic firearms deal that would require the rebel group to gradually decommission their firearms in phases.
They also signed an agreement on water territories – an issue left hanging when the panels signed the power-sharing annex in December 2013.
Najib Razak, the Prime Minister of Malaysia where the talks were held, will attend the signing of the historic agreement “given the significant role Malaysia has played in the peace process,” said the statement.
“[The CAB] has shown that through perseverance, cooperation, and trust, we can achieve what was once thought impossible: peace in the southernmost part of the Philippines, which heralds a future of security, progress, and stability for the entire country.” – Rappler.com