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In the training I attended, I was given a chance to introduce myself through an object which is significant for me. With this object brought me to realize a significant change in my life’s perspective. Here it is.

From the moment we have been given a reminder to bring with us a significant object to be used in our presentation, I found it unnecessary to be reminded for, since it is significant then for sure I will bring it no matter what, when and where.

I was brought out by my parents very close to God. In every endeavour I take, they keep on reminding me to always ask for God’s providence and guidance. This is how influential they were that even now I am still on accord with what they taught me on faith and my religion. That is why I bring with me a rosary bead.

It is more than a thing or object that other may perceive. It is more than a reflection of me but it is me within. It is beyond compare. It signifies my faith; it carries my passion to serve and upholds perseverance to live all throughout the years and still counting. I can testify many journeys I have with that tiny amulet. Many ups and downs, stumbled in many stones, trials and life vicissitudes have been witnessed how hard I hold on to that. In every success, in every failure, with that proves how vulnerable I am.

I was connected to Kadtuntaya Foundation Inc. (KFI), a local non-government organization serving the people in some parts of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato provinces. It was quite unusual at first on my part to be with that organization wherein majority or almost of the staff are Moro or Muslim. I was one of those you can count in your fingers belonged to the minority. Actually, it is not a big deal for that fact. Though I am a devoted Catholic, it does not matter. We do understand our differences, our beliefs, our religion. Respect to one another is the key of that mutual understanding which the name itself of the organization speaks about “kadtuntaya”, a local term used by Maguindanaoan. I work there without hesitation. I committed myself to do the task as expected me to be. They did not ask me to renounce my religion or belief. I am just holding on the faith that I have and share it to them the goodness it offers. I was thankful that I overcome those predispositions against Moro believing that if I think wrong against them they will do the same.

There was a time I need to monitor one of the project sites, a far flung community that I need to travel with a car for two hours, a motorcycle for an hour and a water boat for another half. That was the time where peace talk was not yet on track and the escalation of conflicts and skirmishes between government and MILF was on the hot seat. Along the way, fears really overwhelmed all throughout my veins as I approached the venue because at the back of my mind, the area that I would visit was the place where most MILF and other lawless groups located.

To my surprised, it was confirmed, that they were real and participants of our community orientation – men in uniformed completely armed. With no other choice, I have to go on. At that time I could not say that I fully overcome my biases against them from the fact that I was afraid of what might happen then. It was just like in the state of agony, a state between life and death, a sort of that.

You know what I did? I just held my rosary bead, closed my eyes and said my very sincere prayer,”Lord I am all yours. Please guide me. Keep me safe and let me go back home alive . It is for you. I am all yours. ” Every now and then, I just pressed it on my pocket. When I opened my mouth to start a conversation, I held it tightly. Truly, God moves in mysterious way. It turned that everything seemed to be normal to my senses. I asked them something and they responded an answer. Most of the times, they spoke in vernacular which I felt like an alien but with their facial expressions and body languages I did understand what they mean. Language barriers did not hinder us to communicate. I nodded. I smiled. I shook hands with them which they did the same.

At the end of the day, feeling tired and relieved that “I’m alive.” What else I could ask for, I overcome it. This must be a story to tell. This must be an experience to treasure and a learning to reflect on.

To know them, you should live with them. To understand them, you should be open-minded to all the possibilities. Taking risks is not a sin. It’s a matter of attitude on how to carry such consequences. As of now, I am happy not because I am still alive but most especially, I am carrying the task to serve my Muslim brothers and sisters without renouncing my faith as Roman Catholic. With the life and stories shared, they were comforted. I am touched. I am moved. In most tangible way, this mission of my life is indeed a gift from God.

Source: Travel Experience: A Change of Perspective

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signifies a great milestone of peace negotiations over decades of talks. It is significantly the compilation and sum total of all the agreements, declarations, joint statements, principles and mechanisms reached and agreed upon between the government and the MILF from the start of the peace talks in 1997 up to March 2014.

The principles of the negotiation recognized the justness and legitimacy of the cause of over 3,256,140 Bangsamoro people, their aspiration for the meaningful autonomy through a democratic process, the aim of finding a solution to the Bangsamoro question with honor, justice and dignity and the aim to end the fighting between the government and the MILF. The Bangsamoro seeks to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with a political entity that shall possess broader powers to address the decades-long aspiration of the Moro people for meaningful self-rule over their ancestral homeland.

During the 16th congress, the GPH-MILF peace panel of Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) wielded all their efforts on the passage of Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the congress. Unfortunately, it failed. But the non-passage of BBL was not deemed a total failure though this brought disappointments to Bangsamoro people and to the peace advocates who supported and kept pushing it towards a peaceful Mindanao. This initiates another step to continue the infrastructure of peace process as stated in the CAB. This is to put in place and frontline the clear roadmap that will provide direction to transitional justice and reconciliation measures for the Bangsamoro struggle. It serves as mark of the commitment for peace as it proposes conflict transformation mechanisms on the ground.Despite the threat of time and disappointment, the existence of normalization bodies ensures human security and helps build a society that is committed to basic human rights where individuals are free from fear of violence and long held traditions and values. Under of which is the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC) which undertakes the process of normalization, Joint Peace and Security Committee (JPSC) that will develop policies and operational guidelines for the effective partnership of the JPSTs and Joint Peace and Security Teams (JPSTs) as working for the maintenance of peace and order and the stability of the areas mutually identified by the GPH and the MILF. On the other hand, Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) is mandated to oversee the process of decommissioning of the MILF forces and weapons.

The socio-economic programs were intensified on development efforts for rehabilitation, capacity building initiatives, reconstruction and institutionalizing programs to internally displaced persons (IDPs), and poverty-stricken communities. The Joint Task Force for Decommissioned Combatants and Their Communities (TFDCC) was established also to assist the panel to identify and implement socio-economic priorities and development projects for decommissioned MILF combatants and their communities.

The ceasefire mechanism including the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), International Monitoring Team (IMT) and Ad-Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) are collaboratively working in the commitment to a general ceasefire necessitated to the ongoing peace talks and in the ironing out security issues and concerns in accordance with the security protocols agreed between the GPH and MILF. These are the on-going work and established commitment of both parties that will be reinforced its implementation for the coming months.

There would be unclear path of BBL for the next administration. The potential bottlenecks are marginalized armed groups that lost their trust to the sincerity of the government with regards to peace negotiations, threatened politicians, incoming elections, and anti-Moro individuals who will continue to fuel hatred and resurfaced deep-seated biases against the Moro people.

However, the pressing support and collaborative participation of international community to the peace process provides significant account on the covenant established and put in place the sincerity of the government leaders to pursue it. There would be proactive and reactive measures in accompanying the peace process, education, lobby and information campaign, continuing campaign against potential bottleneck and organized working group to explore alternatives.

This will be an eye opener that might dictate voters to support candidates in this coming election those stand to peace and development as major platform of government. Consequently, this would be an opportune time for Moro leaders in this coming election to serve and govern the Bangsamoro community as to ascertain their confidence and capacities of good governance in responding to basic needs, reducing poverty, bridging social gaps, eliminating anti-social activities, improving human security, improving

Source: CAB: Its Relevance to Peace Process

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