Military watching possible spoilers of Mindanao peace accord signing
MANILA, Philippines—The military is keeping a close watch on possible spoilers of the signing next Thursday of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Saturday.
“We want to make sure that there would be no untoward incidents,” Gazmin said on the sidelines of the celebration of the 117th anniversary of the Philippine Army at Fort Bonifacio. “We know that there are those who do not want this to proceed, that there are disgruntled MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) members, there is the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters), so we are on guard. We want to make sure nothing will affect the signing.”
The government and the MILF are scheduled to sign the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27 at Malacañang Palace with over a thousand guest in attendance.
President Benigno Aquino and MILF chair Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim will witness the signing of the peace agreement that would mark the end of the decades-long secessionist war in Mindanao.
The guns have been silent for the past three years in Central Mindanao as the government and the MILF hammered out a final peace agreement.
A peace deal was reached on January 25 in Kuala Lumpur after the government and the MILF negotiating panels agreed on the normalization annex, the last of the four documents that make up the CAB.
The normalization annex deals with the security aspect of the new autonomous region, which includes “putting beyond use” the firearms of the MILF fighters in phases.
Asked when the government would declare that the war with the MILF is over, Gazmin said it would be when all the provisions in the peace agreement have been implemented and the MILF leadership has informed all its fighters on the ground that there is now a peace deal between the two parties.
Both the government and the MILF acknowledge that much work has still to be done after the peace agreement is signed on March 27.
A Bangsamoro Basic Law has to be passed by Congress, followed by a plebiscite approving the creation of the new Bangsamoro autonomous region, and a transition period until members of the Bangsamoro legislative assembly would be elected in 2016.
A third party monitoring team composed of international and domestic groups would monitor the implementation of all agreements.
It is only when all the agreements have been implemented that an Exit Agreement terminating the peace negotiation would be crafted and signed by both the government and MILF.
At Saturday’s anniversary celebration, Army chief Maj. Gen. Hernando Iriberri paid tribute to awardees of the Medal of Valor.
One of them was Sgt. Claudio Forrosuelo, who died in the war against the MILF in 2000. His daughter, 2nd Lt. Precious Jewel Forrosuelo, was eight years old when he was killed.
She and her mother attended Saturday’s ceremonies along with other Medal of Valor awardees.
The younger Forrosuelo is a member of the Siklab Diwa Class of 2014 of the Philippine Military Academy and made history as the first child of a Valor awardee who graduated from the country’s top military school.
“The courage in combat exemplified by my father can be the same courage which can be manifested through moral integrity and by standing firm on upright principles. This is a challenge not only for me, but for all members of the Siklab-Diwa class, to prove what we have learned in the Academy for four years and that we are molded to be leaders and servants of our nation,” Forrosuelo said in a statement distributed by the Army.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.