Senators back preliminary peace pactBy Matikas Santos
MANILA, Philippines – More senators pledged their support for the peace framework agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine government signed Monday at Malacañang Palace.
“Finally, we are close to achieving a just and lasting peace for the people of Mindanao. I congratulate the government and the MILF, as well as the other parties involved in making this peace pact possible, for their efforts to finally put an end to decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao,” Senator Franklin Drilon said in a statement.
Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. said that a permanent solution to the conflict has long been sought after. “Now we have a clear peace agreement, I can already see long-lasting peace in the south,” he said.
“This will be the key to usher progress in that part of the country, and the greatest beneficiaries will be our countrymen in that part of the country, both Christians and Muslims,” Revilla added.
Senator Alan Cayetano said, “I hope this is the start of a lasting peace in the troubled Muslim Mindanao. The 40 year lingering war has displaced hundreds of thousands, killed at least more than 120,000 people and impoverished millions due to undeveloped economy.”
The peace framework includes the creation of the Bangsamoro region that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the gradual disarmament of all MILF forces by 2016. The agreement was the result of 15 years of negotiations between MILF and the Philippine government hosted by Malaysia.
Drilon said that the agreement would accelerate social and economic progress in the region. “The institution of just and lasting peace in Mindanao is a key to a successful implementation of socio-economic programs and to addressing the high poverty incidence in the entire region,” Drilon said.
“The signing of the peace agreement will help solve delays in the implementation of infrastructure projects and fast-track government’s efforts to boost and upgrade agricultural, tourism and commercial infrastructures in Mindanao.”
Cayetano said, “The momentum and goodwill created by this initial agreement should spur government to deliver quality education, job opportunities and equal political and social rights to the people of Mindanao and prevent them from going back to armed rebellion as these are the fundamental rights that our countrymen have long been deprived of.”
Revilla also sees the that the economic progress in the region will soon be at hand. “If we are successful in this effort, we will see prosperity in the South. Investors and capital will flow-in, and our resources in that area can be properly, sustainably, and efficiently utilized.”