CAMP DARAPANAN – Amongst the hundreds of Mujahideen gathered in formation at this Maguindanao rebel enclave under the scorching sun last Monday, listening as loudspeakers blared developments of the framework agreement signing in Manila, a young fighter was in a battle of his own.
Like the other thousands of people, Muslims and Christians alike, who’ve suffered as a result of 40 years of bloody fighting in this troubled part of Mindanao, the signing of the agreement was an aspiration that warranted joyful tears; tears he, in his youth, fought not to show.
“I am just emotional. For several years, I’ve been looking forward that this war would end.” he said.
The agreement signing lays down the frameworks for a political settlement between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) of Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, whose impassioned speech, televised from Malacañang Palace, it was the Mujahideen were listening to.
“We have inked the most important document in the chapter of our history; a landmark document that restores to our people their Bangsamoro identity and their homeland, their right to govern themselves, and the power to forge their destiny and future,” Murad had said.
“Today we are here to celebrate the victory of the Bangsamoro people and the Filipino nation that is shared by the international community and the Muslim world, the victory earned not by war but by a collective desire to restore justice and peace to a troubled land,” he added.
Some 900 kilometers away from where Murad spoke, inside their fortified camp in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao Province, the Mujahideen chanted the takbir “Allahu Akbar,” which means God is great, in response.
“I want to go home and take care of my family,” the young Mudjahideen said thereafter.
A more elderly gentleman in the formation also expressed gratitude to President Benigno Aquino III “for giving them a chance to have peace.”
Aquino’s address was greatly applauded too, particularly when he described the agreement as a start of a “genuine, lasting peace in Mindanao.”
“In full view of the Filipino people, and witnessed even by our friends from different parts of the world, we commit to peace—a peace that will be sustained through democratic ideals; a peace that heals and empowers; a peace that recognizes the many narratives of the Filipino people, and weaves them into a single, national aspiration for equitable progress,” the president said.
Jehan Usop, of Komunet, a peace and development Non-government organization described the peace agreement as a “historic journey” for all the Bangsamoro people.
“This is the time for unity,” she said, adding that it is also a time to build a culture of peace in Mindanao. (By Dennis Jay C. Santos for Pecojon.PH/knr)