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National

Peace caravan gets warm reception; symbolic signing of GPH-MILF peace pact slated

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- Participants in the “Lakbay Kalinaw (Caravan for Peace) From Mindanao to Malacanang” received warm reception from peace-loving residents in the various localities they passed through on their way to Manila to witness the signing of the Framework Agreement between the Philippine Government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Monday afternoon, caravan coordinator Pendatun Disimban said.

“It feels good spreading the good news of peace,” said Disimban, an assistant secretary of the Department of Agriculture in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. “We believe that now is the best time for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to unite behind this historic event that will benefit not only the Bangsamoro but the entire country as well.”

The peace caravan was expected to hit the Bicol Region Sunday morning after travelling through the Visayas passing through Samar and Leyte provinces. The caravan will converge at the foot of Don Chino Roces Bridge (formerly Mendiola) near Malacañang at 3 pm to join the “Marcha para sa Kapayapaan,” a vigil and a peace concert.

Meanwhile, sporadic peace celebrations will be held in Davao, Iligan, Marawi and Cotabato cities on Monday as the MILF and the government panels sign the Framework Agreement in Malacanang.

Mindanao Peaceweaver Melinda Prieto said that a symbolic citizen signing activity of the GPH-MILF peace accord will be held at Freedom Park in Davao City to “express symbolic participation and solidarity with the Bangsamoro people.”

“Among the conveners of the symbolic signing activity are United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD), Mindanao Coalition of Development NGOs (MINCODE), Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao (AFRIM), and PAKISAMA or Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development,” she added.

“The event is part of our ongoing campaign in Visayas and Mindanao to engage people outside of conflict. The Citizen Signing will kick off a roster of events we are organizing in malls and schools,”

Disimban said that Lakbay Kalinaw caravan conducted citywide information campaign in Tacloban, Legaspi and other cities that they passed by. “The people’s support is overwhelming. In fact, the Provincial Government of Misamis Oriental gave us a resolution supporting the Framework Agreement,” he said.

Disimban said the caravan participants explained “to the people in Visayas and Luzon that this peace agreement will not only benefit the people of Mindanao but the entire country as well.”

Among the multi-sectoral groups that are participating in the caravan are the Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus (MPC), Anak Mindanao, Reform ARMM Coalition, Bangsamoro Solidarity Movement, Bangsamoro Youth, and the regional government of ARMM and its line agencies,” he added.

“We will not leave until the Framework Agreement is signed,” said Disimban, adding that the caravan was organized to “show our jubilation and optimism that a lasting and permanent peace will now dawn in Mindanao.”

Lawyer Mary Ann Arnado, MPC Secretary General, said the holding of the peace caravan was a spontaneous reaction from residents in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and its nearby provinces following the announcement made by President Aquino last week about the breakthrough in the GPH-MILF peace talks.

“The signing of the Framework Agreement is really a historic event for us here in Mindanao,” Arnado said. “Mindanaoans, especially those from conflict-affected areas, are very happy with this momentous event. More than 10 years na kasi itong hinihintay, kaya people are going out of their houses to celebrate.”

Arnado said more people wanted to participate in the peace caravan and witness the peace agreement in Malacanang but were prevented to do so due to “lack of resources.”

In an advisory sent to media organizations nationwide, MPC's liaison officer Mariel Andrea Gardiola said Muslims, Christian and other faiths and tribal leaders in Mindanao, both young and old “will take this long journey to convey to the world that we are a big part of this historic event.”

“With much anticipation, great relief and all-out support for the signing of the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement, grassroots leaders from Muslim, Christian, and Indigenous communities in Mindanao will kick off Saturday the Lakbay Kalinaw Caravan from Mindanao to Malacañang in order to witness the signing,” Gardiola said. 


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