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Malaysian PM Razak to witness signing of PH gov’t-MILF peace pact

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—His country going through its own crisis, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is set to fly to Manila on Thursday (March 27) to witness the historic signing of a final peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Citing information from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Malacañang confirmed, on Wednesday, Najib’s attendance at the signing ceremonies to be held at the Palace grounds fronting the Kalayaan Hall at 4 p.m. Thursday.

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“We know for a fact that Malaysia is undergoing a crisis owing to the fact of the disappearance of the Malaysian airline,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press conference.

“Be that as it may, Malaysia is fully aware of its international commitments, and we thank them that despite the difficulty that they’re encountering, that they have accepted our invitation to grace the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).”

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As of Wednesday, an international search effort had yet to recover what were believed to be debris from the ill-fated Malaysian Airline flight MH370. Najib earlier announced that the plane, which carried a total of 239 people, “ended in the southern Indian Ocean.”

The CAB will encompass all signed agreements, including the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) in 2012 and the four annexes and addendum that came after that.

The culmination of the peace effort with the MILF is expected to come in a plebiscite upholding the Bangsamoro Basic Law. But such a charter, which would be based on the CAB, would first have to be approved by both chambers of Congress.

Malaysia has served as facilitator in the peace talks with the MILF since 2001, hosting negotiations in Kuala Lumpur, the DFA said in a statement. It also heads the International Monitoring Team observing the prevailing ceasefire between both parties.

Before witnessing the signing of the CAB, Najib will sit down with President Aquino “to briefly discuss matters of mutual concern between the Philippines and Malaysia,” according to the DFA.

Najib last visited Manila in October 2012 also to witness the signing of the FAB, a crucial initial document in the peace negotiations.

The five-page CAB will be signed in the presence of the President and Najib by members of both negotiating panels. Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles and MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim will also witness the signing.

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For the government side, it will be chairperson Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, panel members Senen Bacani, Yasmin Busran-Lao and Mehol Sadain and consultants Zenonida Brosas and Jose Luis Martin Gascon.

Signatories for the MILF will be Mohager Iqbal, Datu Michael Mastura, Maulana Alonto, Abhoud Syed Lingga, Abdulla Camlian and Datu Antonio Kinoc.

Ferrer said Tuesday that Tengku Dato’ Abdul Ghafar Tengku Mohamed, who served as the Malaysian facilitator, would sign as witness.

Lacierda said the signing ceremony would be beamed live from Malacañang. He said a portion of the Kalayaan Hall would also serve as a prayer room for Muslim guests. The MILF contingent alone is expected to number to almost 500.

“We decided to move it in the Kalayaan grounds where we believe we can hold, in our estimation, over 1,500 [guests],” Lacierda said.

“In so far as this administration is concerned, I think this will be the biggest [gathering].”

Lacierda said the Palace was aware of no specific threats intended to disrupt the signing of the CAB.

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, Edwin Lacierda, Global Nation, heads of state, Malacañang, Malaysia, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Nahib Razak, official visit, peace agreement, peace facilitator, Peace negotiations, Peace Process, Peace talks, Philippine government, Philippine president
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