Maguindanao folks reaffirm support to GPH-MILF talks PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 11:35

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles was elated with the renewed commitment of support from Maguindanao’s cross-section communities to the setting up of a Bangsamoro political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Deles had been assured by political leaders too last Monday, during the 10th day of the two-week Maguindanao Sagayan Festival, that they will help in disseminating the importance of the full implementation “in letter and spirit” of a final peace deal between the government and the MILF.

Deles was special guest to the Sagayan events last Monday, representing President Benigno Aquino III.

Pledges of support to the GPH-MILF peace overture reverberated through Buluan town on Monday, before Deles and her staff, who came from Manila to witness the Sagayan activities.

The 10th day of the two-week Sagayan revelry was capped with the launching of a jobs placement fair and counseling for Moro and non-Moro job-seekers, to last until February 14.

The Sagayan Festival, pioneered by Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu three years ago, is now a yearly event and has been institutionalized via a resolution promulgated in December 2013 by the provincial board, which is chaired by Vice Gov. Lester Sinsuat.

The Sagayan Festival showcases the cultures and traditions of ethnic Maguindanaon, Iranon, and non-Moro highland communities in the province, which has 36 towns, where the MILF has dozens of government-recognized enclaves.

Among the groups that expressed support to the GPH-MILF negotiations to Deles was the provincial league of vice mayors, led by its figurehead King Jhazzer Manggudadatu, vice-mayor of Buluan.

Vice-Mayor Mangudadatu told reporters the 36 members of the league are looking forward to a successful conclusion of the GPH-MILF peace talks.

He said the league also recognizes the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB) as “fruit of hard and sincere bilateral labor” of the government and MILF panels.

The FAB is to become the basis for the crafting of the Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL), which is needed to legitimize the creation, through a plebiscite, of a Bangsamoro political entity, to replace the ARMM.

Deles had announced, in a brief message to participants to the festival, that the government is optimistic Congress would enact the BBL before the end of 2014.

Maguindanao is a known bastion of the MILF, whose main enclave, Darapanan, is located in Sultan Kudarat town in the first district of the province.

The Sagayan is a centuries-old ethnic Maguindanaon war-and-courtship dance depicting the readiness of locales to defend their lands, their women and children, and Islam from all kinds of aggression.

The Sagayan Festival is also aimed at highlighting the eco-tourism potentials of Maguindanao, the resilience of the local communities, and how the province has been bouncing back from devastations caused by armed conflicts in decades past.

Maguindanao was badly affected by the military-MILF hostilities in 2000, during the time of then President Joseph Estrada, who declared an all-out war against the group.

Gov. Mangudadatu, presiding chairman of the provincial peace and order council, said Moro and non-Moro communities have grown so tired with conflicts.

“We have a fragile peace for about four years now. There has not been any single encounter between the government and the MILF in the past four years. We want this to continue. Foreign investors are now coming in because of the peace we now have,” the governor pointed out.

He said this year’s Sagayan Festival is partly a form of “kanduli,” which means thanksgiving in the Maguindanaon dialect, in celebration of the recent breakthroughs in the GPH-MILF talks.

“Our ancestors always had this Sagayan dance to do thanksgiving for good harvest, for good weather, or to highlight celebrations and wedding events. We’re honored with the coming over of no less than the chief of OPAPP to witness the festival,” Gov. Mangudadatu said, referring to Deles.