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Bangsamoro accord signing ceremony kicks off

/ 04:21 PM March 27, 2014

President Benigno S. Aquino III huddles with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), led by its chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, for a group photo souvenir during the Courtesy Call at the President’s Hall of the Malacañan Palace on Thursday, March 27, 2014. Photo by Ryan Lim/Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – The program for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) kicked off past 4 p.m. Thursday at Malacañang Palace.

More than a thousand people filled the expansive tent set up on Malacañang grounds while hundreds of Muslim groups gathered in Quiapo in anticipation of the historic event, which will culminate in the Philippine government and the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signing the final peace accord.

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As of posting time, Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, was delivering a speech.

She will be followed by MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ibrahim and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

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After President Benigno Aquino III’s speech, the government and MILF peace panel heads,  Miriam Coronel-Ferrer for the government side and Mohagher Iqbal for the MILF, will sign the five-page CAB. Malaysian third party facilitator Tengku Dato Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed will serve as witness.

Meanwhile, simultaneous activities were being held in various parts of Mindanao. In Cotabato City, people launched a peace rally at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex while the ARMM had its own “Peacetahan” festival, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said. Similar events were held in Marawi City, General Santos and Maguindanao.

MILF forces held their own celebration at Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat.

The signing of the CAB marks the culmination of the 17 years of peace negotiations between the two parties and the supposed end to decades of armed conflict in Mindanao. It will pave the way for a new Bangsamoro autonomous political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and will address various issues in the area such as poverty.

The agreement has been lauded by many local and foreign groups.

Ferrer called it the country’s “global contribution to the pursuit of peace.”

“Many other countries [that] face similar troubles are looking up to us to show the way or possible modalities by which they can also address their own domestic conflicts. Our experience, our mechanisms, our approaches have become a rich source of inspiration to these countries that remain challenged by different sources of domestic hostility,” she said on Tuesday.

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