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PIA Press Release

Feature: 40th Bangsamoro freedom day commemoration

By Mimi G. Bern-Edaga

Zamboanga City (March 18) -- Today marks another milestone in the history of peace and development efforts, specifically for the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) combatants who are now active members of Peace and Development Alliances and Peace and Development Leagues. Today is the 40th Bangsamore freedom day.

The 28-year struggle for freedom dated back from 1968 to 1996 was very difficult, recounted the MNLF State Revolutionary Committee in Western Mindanao. The tragic Jabidah massacre fueled the armed-conflict in the 1970s.

The MNLF uprising was a deep-rooted struggle for Bangsamoro self-determination, representation, discrimination and preservation and protection of their ancestral land. It was only after more than two decades of armed struggle against three administrations that the Final Peace Agreement was signed.

Forty years ago in March 18, the Eleven Islands is a grim picture of a deserted war-torn and MNLF battlegrounds, today, this community is an example of the sacrifice and efforts the MNLF and the Peace development Alliances (PDAs) have poured into peace and development

Eleven Islands in Dita, Zamboanga City is now a showcase of a peaceful and developed community where participatory development strategies between the MILF, PDAs and various stakeholders blossomed to a successful partnership.

By words such as "arms to farms," and "commanders to development managers" are used by former MNLF combatants who took the challenge of moving forward and continued the fight for their cause and inspirations through peace organizing and transformation of post-conflict communities in Mindanao. are now active members of PDAs and PDLs.

As PDAs, the former MNLF combatants now bridge the gap between the communities and LGUs, POs, NGOs and even to other local and foreign donor-agencies. PDAs also act as information agents, sharing ad disseminating critical information and knowledge to the community members. They also serve as translators, educators, coordinators and as mediators; resolving conflict between and among community members.

The MNLF State Revolutionary Committees in Western Mindanao call on all stakeholders to renew their call for peace. At the same time they underscored that the PDC is a constant reminder to all of us that peace and development can be achieved through concerted efforts. Along this thought, they lauded the ACT for Peace Programme for their continuing efforts in achieving peace and development in communities, like the Eleven Islands in Western Mindanao.

On this 40th Bangsamoro Freedom Day, the MNLF is pleased with its modest gains but demands for the sustainability of its efforts on peace and development. Among others, they hope for the release of Prof. Nur Misuari, the fast-tracking of the tripartite review and the continued support of donor-agencies to the livelihood projects, capability building and other community development efforts.

Commander Akbari Samson, and Suaib Boy Hadji, DSRC State Chairman will give the welcome address and overview, respectively. James Alih ABdulfrom the ACT for Peace will give the response. (PIA 9-zc) [top]

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