The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro: History Writ and Yet to Come

It has been an open secret over the past week or so that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) will be signed any day now between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). With this document, the long-desired final peace agreement will come into effect in the conflict-affected areas of Muslim Mindanao, a region to be proudly recognized as the “Bangsamoro.” The only thing left unclear aside from the final date, has been the venue for the signing and presentation of this final peace agreement to President Aquino, the rest of the country and then the world.

Looking back, the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) on October 15, 2012, merited an international audience at the nation’s Malacanang Palace. Yet in retrospect we also realize that the signing of the CAB is in and of itself an even greater event that no opulent venue nor august ceremony can overshadow. In that sense, the significance and import of the CAB only require that we be witness to its birth and enshrinement in the annals of history.

How best can each one of us sincerely commemorate such a momentous event? Perhaps the simplest way would be a short and heartfelt prayer of thanks to the Almighty for allowing us all to savor this moment. Let us also be grateful and reflect that despite the billions spent committed to conflict, despite the generations lost and stripped of their innocence through the decades, the countless opportunities and chances long since lost, this all began with the collective hearts and minds of an inspired generation few, guided by a greater commitment to peace that ultimately shaped what now lies before us. To them who forged ahead and made peace our reality, we salute you for your wisdom, your visionary spirit and unstinting commitment to peace. Kudos to you all!

Yet at this juncture, let us also remind ourselves that soon after this all too brief commemoration, we shall all need to gather again, this time to share in the task of birthing this ideal Bangsamoro we have envisaged. The same spirit of commitment and perseverance shall again be called for as we collectively define the new form, character and spirit of the Bangsamoro that we want to share with the world. It will again be a process fraught with challenges, quandaries and even dissent. But even then, let us take heart that we’ve finally picked the path of reason, the path of peace, one that has hopefully silenced the guns with finality and pushed the discourse ebate onto the higher plane of public debate and democratic action.

Also at this point of transition for many of us, to those once cowed who can now stand proud, to the orphans now turned scholars and leaders, to the combatants now returning to their communities and fields in peace, let us all take heart and pride in what has been collectively accomplished. Let us all learn from the past and remain humbled by the tasks yet before us.

And finally, let us be cognizant and inspired by the generations who will judge this, our moment in history. Let us pray that, with the blessing of the Almighty, those who come after us will say we did not squander our chance at shaping our collective history and future. Let them proudly say that when called upon, our generation stood tall and at full measure on the side of peace.

To the task now accomplished, we at the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) together with our allied networks and partners such as the Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW) say “Well done!” To the task now before us, we say “Onward!” And as one, let us all together celebrate what has been achieved.

“PEACE!”

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