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2nd CAB signing anniversary to be marked in Cotabato City on Monday

President Aquino presides at the launch of the Sajahatra Bangsamoro in this Malacañang file photo. The government and stakeholders mark Monday the second anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
The online news portal of TV5

COTABATO CITY - "Stand up for peace. Long live the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB)!"

This is the theme of the second anniversary celebration of the signing of the 2014 negotiated political settlement between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that served as basis for the drafting of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). It also outlined socioeconomic interventions and transitional justice and reconciliation mechanisms to ensure a just and lasting peace not only in Mindanao but across the country.

The anniversary will be commemorated with an event at the Notre Dame University Gymnasium in the city on Monday, March 28, 2016. The actual signing of the CAB happened on March 27, 2014 but due to the observance of Easter Sunday, both the GPH and the MILF agreed to hold it on the following day.

“Even though the proposed BBL was not passed by the 16th Congress, the gains achieved in the Bangsamoro peace process throughout the decades have been tremendous. There is solid basis for the people of the Bangsamoro to remain hopeful and continue looking forward toward a better, peaceful future," said GPH chief negotiator Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer.

"Most importantly, the CAB binds the government and the MILF to a road map that serves as the best deterrent to violent extremism and lays down the needed social and political reform that would see the full transformation of the Bangsamoro region into a center of peace and development,” she added.

The celebration of the CAB signing anniversary will be the last under the current administration. President Benigno S. Aquino III steps down on June 30 to give way to the winner of the 2016 presidential election.

Ferrer and the rest of the GPH negotiating panels are co-terminous with the President.

BBL non-passage does not diminish successes

Before the signing of the CAB, the GPH and the MILF launched the Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program, a concrete socioeconomic initiative aimed to uplift the health, education, and livelihood conditions of residents in MILF communities. Moreover, the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission held earlier in March a public launching of its report and recommendations on healing the wounds of war and addressing the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles said concrete actions are being undertaken with regard the report. She will initiate an interagency committee to study the TJRC’s recommendations and how to put them into motion, Deles added.

Since 2012, zero skirmishes were recorded between GPH and MILF forces, except, OPAPP noted, the Mamasapano incident of Jan. 25, 2015. Despite the firefight that lasted hours and resulted in 67 casualties, ceasefire was quickly re-established.

Anniversary rites

The CAB anniversary celebration will feature several activities such as a photo exhibit on the Bangsamoro peace process and a public viewing of select films and documentaries on the struggles and hopes of the Bangsamoro, will be followed by an open forum. Gates open at 10 a.m. while the actual film viewing will begin 30 minutes after.

The formal program, which will commence at 1 p.m., will be mostly dedicated to awarding plaques of recognition and appreciation to local and international actors who have been part of the Bangsamoro peace process throughout the years. Aside from the established peace and ceasefire mechanisms, past negotiating panel chairs have also been invited as honorees.

Aside from Ferrer and MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, other expected guests include: OPAPP Secretary Deles; representative/s of the MILF Central Committee; members and representatives of the ceasefire mechanisms; members and representatives of mechanisms under the program for Normalization; members and representatives of the Third-Parties in the GPH-MILF peace process; and members and representatives of the Diplomatic Corps.

There will be food booths within the venue that will provide local delicacies and refreshments beginning 11:30 a.m. Several groups have also been invited to render cultural performances.

Invitations have also been extended to: members of the National Peace Council as well as people from the academe, religious communities, security sector, civil society, indigenous people organizations, and Royal Houses.