But, we must patiently address apprehensions at home. Some people see this agreement as a prelude to the Philippine republic’s dismemberment. As patriotic as this sentiment may be, it is not rooted in reality. The sovereignty of the republic has never been completely established or accepted in many parts of Muslim Mindanao.
The Peace Agreement With The MILF
No more war. No more children scampering for safety. No more evacuees. No more lost school days or school months. No more injustice. No more misgovernance. No more poverty. No more fear and no more want.
Tama na. We are all tired of it.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Assemble they did, in the palace grounds: once armed rebels, datus and their royal kin, elected public officials garbed in their Barong Tagalog, the diplomatic corps and civil society leaders. They were to witness a historic event, the inking of the agreement ending decades of religious strife. With the Prime Minister of Malaysia as the mediator, there is a shot to a lasting peace. Bangsamoro will now appear on maps; a chunk of its wealth now goes to institutions governing it, and cultural identities of its people, now preserved.
But just outside the gates of Malacanang, a multitude of voices speak of divergence. Some, do not understand what the agreement is all about. Others, cling to canned ideas fed by those who cannot fathom the agreement itself. But no matter how dissonant tongues were, they all hope for peace. In a world often torn apart by war, seldom do we hear of people coming together.
For this, they believe.
"Alam mo kung ano nangyayari diyan?" I was pointing at the Malacanang, the palace across the street.
"Hindi ko po alam."
"Bangsamoro ata." She finally replied.
"O Bangsamura? Basta yung pirmahan."
"Ah yung tiga Mindanao." I feigned ignorance.
"Alam mo kung ano manyayari kapag nagkapirmahan na?"
Clinging to her one-year old child, she simply answered,
"Ano pong meron ate?"
"Eto yung sa Bangsamoro." She replied.
"Ano po mangyayari kapag nagkapirmahan na?" I asked.
"Matatapos na yung gera sa Mindanao. Yung mga MILF."
Satisfied with her answer, I walked away.
"Magkakaroon kami kalayaan mga Muslim." I asked the same question about the Bangsamoro to a pre-teen.
"Magkakapirmahan na dun si Noynoy."
"Paano kapag nagkapirmahan na?" I asked. His answer, astounded me.
"Magiging bawal na ang mga bakla at tomboy."
"Pag nakapatay ka, papatayin ka rin." An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
I asked further.
"Tingin mo, pag nagkapirmahan na, magkakaroon na ng kapayapaan sa Mindanao." Another kid butted in.
"Opo, hindi na sila magbabarilan."
After the short conversation, they went on to catch small fry under the Mendiola Bridge.
Appalled at the answer I got from the kids, I pried on, observing the day-long program on the iconic bridge; I indulged in the immersion, to witness history closer to the grounds where it happens. Then I came across a middle-aged woman, had small talks with her, and asked, as a final question to all the people I have met so far, what she thinks will happen once the Bangsamoro enjoys self-rule.
"Payapa na. Isa lang naman ang mga Muslim at Kristiyano." I smiled.
She stayed at the assembly, chanting and cheering long after the peace agreement at the Malacanang was signed.