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MILF, government peace deal must have economic package, says Legarda

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10:52 AM October 15th, 2012

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October 15th, 2012 10:52 AM

Senator Loren Legarda. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—To make peace last in Mindanao, the peace framework agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine Government must be coupled with economic progress, Senator Loren Legarda said.

“Ink on parchment cannot solve the problem. It will be a long and arduous process. Any peace agreement will not be successful without an economic package,” Legarda said in a statement.

“And it’s not enough that resources are made available. Resources must be translated into jobs, livelihoods, food, education, healthcare, and welfare for the Bangsamoro people,” she added.

The framework agreement, which will be signed Monday, aims to replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with a new region to be called Bangsamoro. It also calls for the disarming of all MILF rebels.

Legarda, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and Committee on Cultural Communities, said that the agreement is “an opportunity to achieve the long-elusive peace” in the region.

“Let us give peace a chance. Let us explore all possibilities within the bounds of our national sovereignty to achieve the long-elusive peace in Mindanao,” she said.

Legarda pointed out that the long-running conflict in the region has made socio-economic development difficult.

“Mindanao is home to 6 of the 10 poorest provinces and 17 of the 20 poorest municipalities in the country. Armed conflicts since the 1970s have cost at least 120,000 lives and in 2000-2001 alone, 985,412 persons have been displaced,” Legarda said.

“The World Bank estimates that investment deflection not only from conflict-afflicted areas but from Mindanao as a whole increased the economic cost of the Mindanao conflict to more than $10 billion during the years 1975-2002,” she added.

The widely hailed peace framework agreement is an opportunity that should be seized immediately to allow for economic progress, Legarda said.

“With these figures as a backdrop, the prospects for peace and prosperity in Mindanao should be welcomed by all Filipinos. We must grab this opportunity now as it may not come again and commit to the economic component of the peace agreement or it will fail again,” she said.

“This chance may only happen in President Benigno Aquino’s time because of his desire for a sincere, clean, and honest governance,” Legarda said.

She further stated her commitment as senator to help the Bangsamoro people achieve “lasting and durable peace,” in the region.

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