Maguindanao peace caravan launched, prelude to FAB forum PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 15:15

Rains pouring since Monday night failed to dampen the enthusiasm of hundreds of participants to Tuesday’s “peace caravan” that toured Maguindanao as a prelude to the January 9-10 regional forum on the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) in Buluan town in the second district of the province

The related peace caravan and the two-day forum were organized by the provincial government of Maguindanao and the league of mayors in the province to show support to the FAB, which the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed October 15, 2012 in Malacañang, in the presence of President Benigno Aquino III.

Northern Kabuntalan Mayor Ramil Dilangalen, spokesman of the mayors’ league in Maguindanao, said they were amazed with how the public supported the peace caravan, to kick off the January 9-10 FAB forum in Buluan town.

“Seeing the people and their elected leaders participate in the caravan is heart-rending. Dozens upon dozens of vehicles joined in as the convoy passed by the towns in the first and second districts of Maguindanao. It was enough indication that the local communities want lasting peace in the troubled Moro homeland,” Dilangalen told reporters.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, chairman of the provincial peace and order council, said they are expecting dozens of representatives from various civil society organizations, the religious and business communities to attend the FAB forum.

Preceding the January 9-10 forum in Maguindanao was last month’s similar event in Jolo, Sulu, which was attended by Mangudadatu, Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front, Sulu Gov. Hadji Sakur Tan, and representatives of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, and the MILF.

Representatives of different CSOs, among them Datu Bimbo Sinsuat, who was a former member of the Regional Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, clerics, retired public officials and peace activists helped the provincial government draft last Monday an executive order aimed at establishing a task force that will disseminate to Maguindanao residents the contents of the FAB and its relevance to fostering peace in Moro-dominated provinces in Southern Philippines.
The discussions on how to articulate the proposed executive order, which Mangudadatu is to sign, focused on the need for such task force — even without having
been required “in black and white” both by the government and the MILF peace panels — to educate local communities on the importance of the FAB.

The envisioned FAB information task force also aims to disseminate the significance of the FAB to the continuing efforts by the GPH and MILF panels to strike a peace deal meant to end the Moro rebellion that started in the early ‘70s.

Peace activists consulted on the drafting of the proposed executive order also argued that the best, legal basis for the creation of the provincial FAB information task force was the framework agreement itself, which the government and MILF signed in Malacañang.

Ghazali Jaafar, MILF’s vice chairman for political affairs, said they appreciate the support of local officials and non-Moro groups to the FAB.

“We are also thankful to the efforts of non-MILF groups, independent groups, LGUs and non-government organizations in disseminating the contents of the FAB,” Jaafar told reporters via mobile phone.

Also consulted by Mangudadatu’s office on what terms to use in the proposed executive order were officials of the Army’s 601st Brigade led by Col. Edmund Pangilinan.

Pangilinan said while they cannot directly organize or lead consultations on FAB and the peace process, they can help provide technical support to such initiatives.

“We in the military support the Mindanao peace process,” he said.

Jaafar said the MILF find “fascinating and encouraging” the show of support by local communities, including political leaders, to the Mindanao peace process.

Tuesday’s peace caravan the Maguindanao provincial government organized also fascinated even ordinary Moro and non-Moro folks in Central Mindanao.

Farmer Moktar Sanggutin, 45, said it was his first time to witness such display of support by LGUs in Maguindanao to the GPH-MILF talks.

“There is no reason for ordinary residents in the province not to support the FAB now that even our local executives are out there helping advance its cause,” Sanggutin said in the Maguindanaon vernacular.