'Ink on paper not enough to bring peace'
MANILA, Philippines – It’s a historic day for the Philippines as the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front sign a framework agreement for peace.
Both sides warn hard work and challenges lie ahead.
Ayee Macaraig reports.
It's a day of many firsts.
After 40 years of fighting, Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim sets foot in Malacanang for the first time.
Along with President Benigno Aquino III, he watches history unfold as his rebel group and the Philippine government sign a roadmap to peace after 15 years of negotiations.
The 2012 Framework Agreement creates a region bearing the name of his people's struggle - Bangsamoro.
The significance of the moment is not lost on Murad and Aquino's peace adviser.
AL HAJ MURAD EBRAHIM
Never in my wildest dream since I was a child or when I joined the Bangsamoro struggle more than 40 years ago that one day I would see the interior of this building that once housed the Spanish and American governors-general and now the presidents of the Philippines. Today, after almost 16 years of hard negotiations interspersed with armed confrontations on the ground, we have inked the most important document in the chapter of our history.
PRESIDENTIAL PEACE ADVISER
It will be better tomorrow even in the darkest days of despair. I have been an advocate of peace almost my entire life but this is the first time that I have seen such broad and overwhelming support as we are now seeing for the agreement that we are about to sign today.
Government Peace Panel Chairman Marvic Leonen and his MILF counterpart Mohagher Iqbal sign the roadmap in the presence of peace advocates the world over.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak visits the Philippines for the first time as head of state to convey his country's commitment in helping see the deal through.
Najib stresses the two parties' commitment will be put under the test.
MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER
The ink on this paper will not save a single life unless it is matched with a true and immovable commitment to peace. The framework agreement is a historic document but it does not solve all the problems.
Aquino's peace adviser says history will call him the president who made Bangsamoro possible.
Half-joking, Aquino reminds the local executives in the region, they will share the responsibility of fleshing out the deal.
BENIGNO AQUINO III
I also thank the governors of the ARMM provinces for their support of this agreement, [applause] and thank them in advance for the hard work they will certainly exert so that today’s signing leads to positive changes in their provinces.
Now that the deal is signed, the long work of threshing out details on power-sharing, wealth-sharing and the decommissioning of the MILF is just starting.
A transition commission, legislation, ratification, and elections will also have to be carried out.
But for now, the parties celebrate this hard-earned milestone.
The devil is in the details. President Aquino, the government and the MILF know all too well that this deal is just an initial victory. But they say decades of conflict have taught them that fighting the evils of war is a worthy battle.
Ayee Macaraig, Rappler. – Rappler.com
Read the full text of the Framework Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on the establishment of the new autonomous political entity, Bangsamoro, that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
For related stories, read: