Metro Cebu Muslims, advocates hail pact

Posted on October 15, 2012

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International peace advocates and Muslim community leaders in Cebu hailed this afternoon’s signing of the preliminary framework agreement between the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

A member of the International Contact Group assisting the peace process between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) said today’s signing of the framework agreement on peace as a historic day of celebration.

“The Philippines is following a global trend of increased decentralization in response to the diverse and multiple identity of its people,” Emma Leslie, an Australian member of the International Contact Group (ICG) said.

“October 15th is a historic day for celebration, but just one milestone in the long journey for peace between the Moro and Filipino peoples,” said Leslie, also a director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies and founder of the Action Asia Peacebuilders.

The ICG, a group of foreign states and international non-governmental organizations that is tasked to assist in the peace process, played a crucial role in breaking the deadlock in the peace negotiations.

In Metro Cebu, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos-Visayas region (NCMF-7) called on Muslim community leaders to speak out in support of the agreement.

“This (framework agreement) is very cheap while fighting is very costly; no need to spend for it,” said Alden Pangarunga, head of the commission’s cultural affairs division.

Metro Cebu has more than 60,000 Muslim residents based on 1995 records.

A flag raising ceremony and solemn prayers will be held in different mosques in Cebu and Central Visayas.

“We are concerned about this because this will entail our future. And we are happy about this,” NCMF Visayas regional Director Malo Manonggiring told Cebu Daily News.

Pangarunga said they talked with 32 ranking Muslim business and religious leaders in Cebu and Central Visayas and they all favored support for the preliminary agreement.

Manonggiring said they are asking the public to pray for the success of the preliminary framework agreement which he sees as helping usher in the creation of an autonomous Bangsamoro political entity that would resolve the long-running conflict in Mindanao. /Jessa J. Agua and Tweeny M. Malinao with BenCyrus G. Ellorin

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