“I am happy and sad”- Mohagher Iqbal on the Framework Agreement

MILF Peace Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal expressed mixed emotions on the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) between GPH and MILF in a consultation with different civil society organizations held yesterday, October 30 in Cotabato City.

MILF Peace Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal and CBCS Chairperson Guaimel Alim

“I am happy as a person, as a member of the peace panel, and as a member of MILF because I am involved. But at the same time, I am sad. I am happy because we have a destination, I am sad and worried because we have so much to do. But in the end, I am more happy because I trust Allah is with us.” Mohagher Iqbal stated in his opening remarks.

Iqbal was the main speaker at a consultation held at KFI Conference Hall, KFI Compound in Dona Pilar Street that was attended by different Moro Civil Society Organizations headed by Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) and Kutawato Regional Management Committee (KRMC), IP Leaders headed by Timuay Melanio Ulama of Organization of Téduray and Lambangian Conference (OTLAC), national democratic organizations represented by Kawagib Philippines and Kabataan Party, human rights groups and international NGOs.

Iqbal also reiterated that the FAB is not a perfect document but it is the best so far with regards to advancing the right of the Bangsamoro people to self-determination as it builds on prior experiences and fills the gap where earlier documents failed. He called on everyone to give the peace process the benefit of a doubt and consider the FAB as an incremental victory in which steps are still to be taken to build the feasibility of a Bangsamoro identity, territory, and government.

Iqbal considers the FAB as the key to the liberation of the Bangsamoro people, but he was quick to add that it is not instantaneous. According to him, there are four important things to do which are ideological strengthening, political consolidation, socio-economic development, and cultural development. He added that learning from past experiences, they have set up safeguards to ensure the compliance of the central government to the peace process. First is that the Peace Panel will not cease to exist even with the event of signing of a final peace agreement; second is the presence of an international monitoring group and they will only sign an exit agreement upon satisfaction on the proceedings of the peace process; and lastly is that the miscellaneous and annexes of the FAB will be a bilateral agreement.

To conclude, Iqbal stated that “The Framework Agreement offers optimism, but we also have to manage expectations and frustrations”.

Meanwhile, Mr. Guiamel Alim, Chairperson of CBCS, offered a challenge to the attending organizations on what they can do to disseminate correct information to the populace especially in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu. He added that information to be disseminated should not be exaggerated nor lacking of pertinent details, as either of which can be detrimental to the peace process.

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