CAGAYAN DE ORO City, Oct. 12, 2012—A contingent of the Lakbay Kalinaw Caravan (Peace Caravan) arrived here on its way to Manila to witness the historic signing of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro between President Aquino and Ibrahim Murad, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, in Malacañang on Monday.
“Young and old, women and men, Muslims and Christians from all tribes and faiths in Mindanao take the long [road] journey to convey to the world that we are a big part of this historic event,” said Mariel Andrea “Ayyi” Gardiola, networking and liaison officer of the Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus (MPC), which organized the caravan.
Lawyer Mary Ann Arnado, MPC secretary-general, meanwhile, sounded the urgent appeal to “all political leaders in Mindanao to support the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement including the more critical task of implementing the agreement.”
“The peace panels, PNoy and Chairman Murad could not do this by themselves. We need the cooperation and support of everyone especially those in Mindanao who will stand to directly benefit from the dividends of peace,” she told this reporter.
“Now more than even, the sons and daughters of Mindanao especially our political leaders, should also do our part for the sake of peace and unity and reconciliation with our Muslim brothers and sisters,” she added.
She also thanked the international community for their strong support to the GPH-MILF peace negotiations and for contributing so much “to bring the parties to an agreement.”
Arnado said the peace caravan is one way of showing to the world that Mindanawons, regardless of their religious and political affiliations, are one in showing support to the signing of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro.
According to Gardiola said, peacebuilders and peace advocates do not mind travelling by land and sea and “spend long days and nights of travel to show our deep gratitude and thanksgiving that we have finally reach the light at the end of the long dark tunnel.”
She said that those who are participating in the caravan “represent the hopes and dreams of the civilians in the conflict-affected areas and gratitude to God’s wisdom and boundless generosity that we are given this opportunity to reconcile as brothers and sisters.”
The peace caravan started in Davao City, Cotabato City, Maguindanao and North Cotabato Friday morning and linked up with contingents in Marawi City, Iligan City, Cagayan de Oro City, Butuan City. They converged in Lipata port in Surigao City. From there, the caravan will board the ferry all to the way to Liloan in Leyte and then to Allen then to Matnog in Sorsogon. It is expected to arrive in Malacañang Sunday afternoon.
More than 20 vehicles joined the caravan with the support from peace networks, church, civil society organizations and line agencies of the ARMM.
ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman strongly supported the peace caravan.
The caravan will join other peace advocates in Luzon and NCR for the Peace Vigil in Malacanang to welcome the ceremonial signing on Monday.
“As key stakeholders in the peace journey in Mindanao, the participants have embarked on this literal journey to witness and show our support to the ceremonial signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro forged last Sunday in Kuala Lumpur by the peace negotiating panels of the government and the MILF,” Arnada said.
“This is the legacy of President Aquino to all peace-loving Mindanawons and Filipinos, regardless of religious affiliation and political leanings,” she added to this reporter.
Pastor Reu Montecillo, MPC co-chairperson, said that since peace is what all Filipinos are aspiring and dreaming of for a long time, it is but logical that “we support this historic signing of the framework.”
“Ato ngyud ni nga gipaabot kini nga panahon para matapos na ang kagubot sa (We have been waiting for a long time to stop the fighting in) Mindanao ug aron usab masugdan na nato ang pagtinabangay alang sa pagpalambo sa atong dapit (so that we can start cooperating for the development of our beloved island). With the help of God and our people we can have peace in our heart while we develop Mindanao. The Bible said ‘Behold how good and how pleasant it is when brethren dwells together in unity. For there the Lord command the blessing!’,” Montecillo said. (Bong D. Fabe)