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PEACETALK: To witness the rebirth of a new hope

(Speech of MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim at the signing of the Executive Order increasing the membership and expanding the functions of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, Rizal Hall, Malacanan Palace, 07 November 2016)

His Excellency President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Senate President Koko Pimentel, Speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez, Secretary Jesus Dureza, other members of the Cabinet, Senate and Congres, Members of my delegation from the MILF Implementing Peace Panels of both GPH and MILF, Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters, ladies and gentlemen, Assalamu Alaykum Warhmatullahi Wabarakatuh and Good Afternoon to all of you!

Once again, I come here today in this historic place in the name of Peace and for peace.

I stand before you not to assert my leadership for a movement that has fought the government for more than forty years. 

I stand before you to represent and assert the legitimate interest and aspiration of my people whose desire for peace and justice has long been denied.

I come here today, not to cash in “the dividends of peace.”

I come here today to offer a partnership for peace, so that together, our people and we, may reap progress and development.

I stand before you not to create division as a result of our assertion for a distinct identity. I stand before you to offer mutual understanding so that despite our differences, we may still live together and build together a better future.

Today indeed is a special day and I am elated to witness the triumph of our collective desire to continue to pursue the path of peace despite the many challenges, and to build on the cumulative gains of our peace process. This certainly, will hasten the process that will lead us to the full implementation of the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro).

The signing of this Executive Order that will reconstitute the Bangsamoro Transition Commission brings to the fore the sincere desire of the new administration under His Excellency President Duterte to continue the path of peace. Given this, you shall find the MILF a sincere and willing partner.

It is our hope that the signing of this Executive Order will pave the way for the immediate passage of the enabling law that will translate the provisions of the CAB into a law. The CAB is the embodiment of the legitimate aspirations of the Bangsamoro people to determine their future and govern themselves within a larger Philippine republic. It is an important step to addressing what the President has often said as the historical injustice committed against the Bangsamoro people. It is not just our right. It is the right thing to do.

The CAB and its translation, the BBL is not the franchise of the MILF. The benefit of this law will redound to the benefit of everyone in our region, and the whole country in general. It is a law that will level the playing field so that everyone can participate meaningfully in the development of our homeland. It is a law that builds on the gains of previous peace agreement and draws lessons from the weaknesses of previous autonomy legislations. It is not owned by anyone. Everyone owns it. It is a peace covenant forged between our people and the Philippine government that seeks to correct a historical injustice so that henceforth, we may no longer seek to destroy one another but build our country together. It is a law that seeks to bequeath to our generation a country that they can be proud and a history that recognizes the heroism of a people that has consistently resisted colonialism and imperialism. Indeed, a country that cares for everyone.

And so today my friends, I come here not merely to witness the signing of an Executive Order, but I come here today to witness the rebirth of a new hope that we may finally see the fulfillment of the promise of a peace agreement for which we have dedicated our lifetime.

I pray that peace, progress, justice and brotherhood will reign in our homeland. Thank you and Wassalam.  (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews.  Al Haj Murad Ebrahim was vice chair for military affairs of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces and served as MILF peace panel from 2001 to 2003. He has been chair of the MILF since late July 2003, after the death of founding chair Salamat Hashim)

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