October 15 saw a salient fruit of the longish government talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF: the signing of the Framework Agreement (FA) which aims to create a Bangsamoro government, effectively replacing the old Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. Although there has been much hype and media coverage on this event, it must be cleared right at this moment that the FA signing is just the first of the many steps which the government and the MILF have to do to meet on terms which will benefit both sides of the negotiating groups.
What could have been more pleasurable to see were those MILF members, signing on the table in Malacañanang Palace. This simple act sends a strong message to the people on the south that both groups are intent in achieving peace in their places. This peace is not for the wealthy only or a form of surrender on either of the two groups. This is a lasting peace primarily for the vast groups living in Mindanao.
I have written about my misgiving in achieving a short-term peace in the south primarily due to the emergence of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (see my post “A Long Way to Southern Peace” here). But then we knew that talks continued at least in the ‘political’ arena and enabled us to achieve this mutual agreement. Although this partial solution seems optimistic in nature, we are yet to see the purging of the armed elements of the MILF and other similar groups in the south. Peace, at least in the southern Philippines, necessitates setting aside the firearms. It has to be enough for now.
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