By Noel Y. Punzalan and Edwin O. Fernandez
SHARIFF KABUNSUAN COMPLEX, Cotabato City, March 27 (PNA) – – A heavy downpour cut short the jubilation of employees here watching live on wide screen monitors the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace representatives in Malacañang Thursday afternoon.
The downpour came about as government and MILF peace panel members were signing the CAB documents as seen live on a huge viewing monitor shortly after 5:p.m. here.
Despite the rain, however, bursts of happiness and tears of joy abounded at the merriment in this 22-hectare provisional seat of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in this city.
With their eyes glued on the large screen set up in front of the Office of the Regional Governor building, hundreds of ecstatic viewers praised the CAB adoption, relishing in a way, the culmination of a 17-year government-MILF peace overture on efforts to find a lasting solution to the Moro rebellion in Mindanao for self-determination.
Colored white and green balloons amid the sea of people dressed in white and green attires also added dazzle to the celebration here.
The on-off negotiations started by both parties sometime in January 1997 ended peacefully after 17 years today. That is a historic event, said a smiling Jing Abo, a utility worker in this compound.
Abo said he hopes that the GPH-MILF peace deal would be the last negotiations he would ever witness in his lifetime for the sake of his children and the generations to come in Mindanao.
In North Cotabato province, thousands of peace advocates and GPH-MILF accord supporters gathered at the Pikit town plaza since 9:00 a.m. to express their support to the peace deal.
Hadja Abing Olan, a resident of Barangay Rajah Mudah in Pikit, said she is very happy with the signing of the CAB deal as lasting peace is now at hand.
This peace deal is not only for us Muslims but also for the Christians and Lumads (natives) in Mindanao. I hope there will be no more wars, she said in Maguindanaon vernacular.
This developed as hundreds of motorcyclists with small green flags bearing the message Long Live Bangsamoro fluttering at their bikes handle bars also paraded for the success of the talks from the town of Datu Piang to Buluan, both in Maguindanao, over a distance of some 100 kilometers. (PNA)