MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Najib Razak, who witnessed the historic signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in Malacañang on Thursday, said the peace deal forged between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ended 40 years of darkness in the troubled region.
“Forty years ago, darkness came to Mindanao. In a struggle that bridged a generation, 150,000 lives were lost. Today, we turn to face the light. Today belongs to the Philippines and to the people of the Bangsamoro,” the Malaysian leader said.
Najib vowed to continue to help the Philippines ensure the success of the CAB, which Malaysia helped forged by acting as facilitator since 2001.
“In signing this agreement, the two sides have looked not to the problems of the past, but to the promise of the future. After so many years of conflict and so many lives lost, it is a momentous act of courage, and it will change their nation’s history forever,” he said.
The Prime Minister noted that the sealing of the agreement “affirmed the rights of the Bangsamoro to determine their own destiny.”
“Both sides have sacrificed so that the people of southern Philippines may live free, free from the violence which tore so many families apart, free from the suffering caused by decades of conflict, free from fear,” Najib stressed.
Like Aquino, the Malaysian Prime Minister said the signing of the CAB was just the beginning of bigger challenges and setbacks ahead.
“Unity cannot be decreed overnight. After so many years, there are no easy shortcuts, much work remains and there will be setbacks along the way, but the commitment to peace, the commitment I see in this surrounding today must not waver.
We must be steadfast and we must be resolute,” he declared.
Razak said he was confident that the Philippine Congress will act on the Bangsamoro Basic Law in the quickest possible time.
“I am confident that the government of the Philippines will continue to work with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law. The support of all parties will be crucial if the law is to be passed by the Philippine Congress and a plebiscite in Bangsamoro,” he added.
The Malaysian leader said his country’s role in the peace process with the MILF honored them as it strengthened the ties between Manila and Kuala Lumpur.
“Malaysia is honored to have played its part in this process. We wish for nothing more than peace and prosperity for our brothers and sisters in Bangsamoro and in the Philippines. This peace process has strengthened the bond of trust between our countries,” he noted.
Najib also pledged Malaysia’s continuing support as third-party facilitator and by working through the International Monitoring Team in Mindanao.
“Throughout the peace process, both sides gave their all so that the people of Bangsamoro may enjoy the boundless dividends of peace that they may work, and learn, and live again,” he said.