Fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao province, fell silent as the final peace deal was being signed in Manila.

But the fighters chanted “Allahu Akbar (Allah is great)!” immediately after the signing was officially declared.

Some fighters also waved their hats in celebration while others threw these in the air.

Some 10,000 fighters and supporters gathered under colorful tents in Camp Darapanan as they closely monitored the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Nasrullah Abdullah, administrative officer of the operation department of the MILF, said the atmosphere of hope and optimism had overshadowed the military character of the rebel group’s main camp.

Festive mood

“The mood is very festive. We are so overwhelmed that members and supporters flocked to the camp. In fact, the attendance today is relatively larger than the attendance during the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (in October last year),” Abdullah said.

Local leaders and commanders gave speeches expressing joy and determination to safeguard the agreement to ensure its full implementation.

Kites in Manila

In Manila, kite flyers and enthusiasts gathered at Rizal Park for the symbolic release of kites for peace to dramatize their support for the signing of the CAB.

Two hours before the signing of the agreement, members of the Kites Association of the Philippines (KAP), together with the National Youth Commission (NYC), the Young Moro Professionals Network (YMPN) and the OFWs for Peace, flew insect-shaped and statement kites at Burnham Green, the parade grounds of the park around 2 p.m.

A kite with the text “Fly high Pinas” adorned the sky beside the Quirino Grandstand along with other colorful kites that were flown to celebrate the historic signing of the peace agreement.

“This ‘Kites for Peace’ is our humble expression of support for peace in our country,” said KAP president Orlando Ongkinco.

The tradition of flying kites, according to YMPN coconvenor for peace committee Arman Disomimba, is very popular among Muslim children and youth, especially those from Tawi-Tawi.

“We call kite flying ‘layang layang’ and for us it symbolizes peace, unity, hope and recovery,” Disomimba said.

Breakaway group

It was another normal day in areas influenced by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, an MILF breakaway group, in several towns in Maguindanao and North Cotabato, said rebel spokesperson Abu Misry Mama.

“I am not saying this because we want to criticize the signing, but this is the reality here. There are almost no green flags except for a few houses who are die-hard MILF members,” Mama said.

Mama said there was no reason for the people in the communities to celebrate because the agreement was compromised as it favored the government.

“And they should remember that the signing is not the end. It would still go through many processes, including that of Congress. The celebration today is a waste of money. They should have instead used it for social programs that would directly benefit Moro communities,” Mama said.

Mama added that MILF members in their territories should not worry about safety because they would not be harmed unless they participate in military operations against them.

In Marawi City, close to 6,000 Maranaws gathered at the Cabili Plaza in the village of Banggolo to show their support for the CAB.

Col. Glenn Macasero, commanding officer of 103rd Brigade, said Army troops were deployed to secure the crowd.

After the prayer rally, the crowd was expected to go to the provincial capitol grounds for the Kalilang (cultural festivities)… see more

source: inquirer