Refugees see hope in gov't-MILF peace pact

Posted at 10/16/2012 9:34 PM

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines – Datu Piang town in Maguindanao was one of the areas in central Mindanao affected by violence following the junking of the MOA-AD between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2008.

Hundreds of lives were lost in the gunfight and thousands were displaced after their homes were burned down.

Several internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Barangay Buayan have yet to recover from the conflict, with some still living in makeshift tents and bunkhouses in a school compound.

There are around 80 families living in an evacuation shelter and they are apprehensive about returning to their homes due to unstable situation.

Samsiya Mohammad, a mother of 3, has been staying in the evacuation shelter for 4 years. She said life is never easy in evacuation centers and the conflict in 2008 between government forces and the MILF still haunts her sometimes.

Mohammad, along with thousands of Muslims, is also in jubilation in the signing of the framework agreement.

Arnel Kalim, a part-time teacher in Datu Piang town who was also traumatized by the conflict, is happy on the arrived agreement.

Kalim's 11-month-old son died inside their tent at the height of war in 2008 due to illness.

For Kalim, they have suffered enough and the framework agreement is what the Bangsamoro has been waiting for.

The IDPs in Datu Piang see hope in the framework agreement.

They believe that the agreement will put an end to the evacuation and homelessness.

The IDPs hope that lasting peace will happen in Mindanao and improve the lives of people who are oftentimes victims of armed battle.

Peace pact to help economy?

The business sector in Cotabato City likewise supports the move of the government in signing the framework agreement with the MILF.

Cotabato Grocers Association president Oscar Tan-Abing admits that although the business sector in Cotabato City has little knowledge on the framework agreement, they are supporting the President in his peace initiatives.

They are also optimistic that this is an advantage in the island of Mindanao as it is widely recognized by the international communities, which will translate to more investments and economic activities.

They said they will continue to monitor results of the framework.