Sukran. Salamat. Thank you.

The Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW) offers these words of kindness to all peacemakers of the Bangsamoro. Indeed, blessings will come for those who have offered their lives, limbs and all.

As the accord we all have been working for has been reached, we hope that the guns will remain silent and the ploughshares, goodwill, and nation building replace them. Kudos to the peace panels, their principals, civil society and their constituents and more so the Filipino and Bangsamoro peoples for staying the hard, difficult road in accompanying and seeing through this process to reach this cherished dream.

The Annex on Normalization, the fourth of the annex series of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), marks the last of the hurdles before the finish line. This is not just about deadlines or racing with time – this is about the hundreds of years of struggle to get past abject poverty, landlessness, underdevelopment, corruption, human rights violations, and discrimination aside from the historical pains already tucked in the deepest recesses of our collective memory.

We believe that when the FAB transitions itself to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), a greater task at hand awaits all of us, and that is building the infrastructure for peace and development in the Bangsamoro – a litmus test for genuine autonomy and governance in our blighted Muslim region.

The roadmap towards the actual establishment of the Bangsamoro will not be a walk in the park. It will require a lot of believing not only from the peoples in the proposed core territory, but from all Filipinos. Aside from garnering full support from legislators in Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), we need to mobilize a massive social capital with a national character. This should be part of the entire strategy of bringing the Bangsamoro into the public space.

Of equal importance is guaranteeing that the Bangsamoro is more inclusive by putting premium on full recognition and respect of the rights and entitlements of the other stakeholders inside the core area especially the indigenous peoples as well as the women, youth and other vulnerable sectors. This must be translated into relevant provisions in the BBL as well as ensuring their meaningful and greater participation in all decision-making processes.

And as the implementation stage of the CAB is about to commence – we now hope that the other peace tables are inspired to resume their own processes and look forward for them to likewise achieve similar breakthroughs in the near future.

Our peoples deserve no less. It is about time for our nation to soar!