Aquino wants peace process completed when he steps down


PEACEMAKERS’ CHAT President Aquino listens to Murad Ebrahim, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), at the launch of the Sajahatra (blessings, prosperity and peace) Bangsamoro program in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao. The government and the MILF have forged an interim peace deal. LYN RILLON

SULTAN KUDARAT, Maguindanao—President Aquino on Monday paid a historic visit to the stronghold of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) here and said the peace talks must be speeded up.

As hundreds of military troops and MILF fighters stood guard outside the Moro rebel’s Camp Darapanan, Aquino and MILF chairman Ebrahim Murad handed out educational, health and livelihood benefits to the families of the rebels to show the government’s intention to improve the lives of the Muslims in Mindanao.

It was the first presidential visit in peace to the MILF’s stronghold in Maguindanao province, which has a recent history of major battles between government forces and Muslim insurgents, who were at times suspected to have been aided by al-Qaida-linked terrorists.

In his speech during the ceremonies for the launch of Sajahatra Bangsamoro, a social development program for the MILF and Moro communities, Aquino said the peace process should be completed before his term ends in 2016.

“We have just three years and four months left. We have to speed up everything we are doing now to make this (peace) permanent,” Aquino said.

The President said the completion of the process during his term would ensure that future peaceful relations would not depend on who is in office.

‘Heartbreak Hill’

He said the peace process had reached “Heartbreak Hill,” a reference to the final but uphill stretch of the famed Boston Marathon, and “there should be no turning back.”

“We are near the fruits of our labor. This is not the time for our hearts to grow faint,” Aquino told MILF leaders, Moro residents of the sprawling camp, and foreign diplomats who came here to see the launching of social services for the Muslims of Mindanao.

Under the new program, the Aquino administration is pledging to provide health insurance, assistance in finding jobs and funding for schools for the rebels’ families.

“As we near the top of Heartbreak Hill, more intrigues will come our way. The process is difficult. But remember, what has brought us here is trust,” Aquino said.

The Aquino administration and the MILF signed last October a “framework agreement” for the establishment of Bangsamoro, a new autonomous region in Mindanao, by 2016 to end a decades-long Muslim rebellion for a separate state in Mindanao.

But the full details of the agreement are still being thrashed out, and Aquino warned that unnamed figures were putting up “obstacles” to peace.

He said friends had warned him not to enter MILF territory but he replied, “If I can be a bridge, then the sacrifice of one Noynoy (his nickname) is worth it to help so many of our countrymen.”

Applause interrupted the President’s speech.

Muslims’ trust

“I’m just returning the trust you’ve given me; we understand each other so much because we’re ready to sacrifice for one another,” Aquino said.

“I think before I step down, the problem will not be fighting but traffic,” he added, drawing chuckles from the crowd.

Speaking for his community, Murad said the MILF was humbled by Aquino’s “grand gesture” of personally launching the socioeconomic program “on this hallowed ground that has seen many battles that we have fought to win freedom and the right of our people to chart their own history.”

While welcoming the government’s initiative, Murad cautioned both sides against plunging headlong into development without a comprehensive peace agreement lest the effort go to waste.

Development, Murad said, must “stand on the solid foundation of peace,” the kind that is achieved by dealing with the fundamental political issues that fueled the conflict in the first place.

Muslim rebels began fighting since the 1970s for independence in Mindanao, the southern third of the mainly Roman Catholic Philippines that the country’s Muslim minority claim as their ancestral homeland.

An estimated 150,000 people have died in the conflict.

Most important task

A comprehensive peace agreement “must remain the single most important task of this partnership, for only when we achieve this can we be assured of real development,” Murad said.

Facing reporters with Murad later, Aquino said he agreed with the MILF leader’s views.

“I agree with the concept,” Aquino said. “For instance, what kind of problems will take place? There is what we call ‘donor fatigue’? And there is a saying that ‘success has many fathers; failure is a lonely orphan.’”

Murad shrugged off comments by Nur Misuari, chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), who is opposing a separate peace agreement between the government and the MILF, that the preliminary peace accord was unconstitutional.

“Perhaps we could influence them,” Murad said. “They’ll realize what good this will bring.”

Cabinet officials helped the President symbolically turn over PhilHealth cards, vouchers for scholarship grants, and certificates of eligibility for livelihood training to MILF rebels and their families.

“Through the Sajahatra Bangsamoro program, we’re showing that we need not wait for a long time to experience transformation,” Aquino said.

“The 11,000 beneficiaries of the MILF need not grow old to be covered by PhilHealth or cash for work program,” he said.

Extensive strategy

Aquino said the program, which would be implemented in Bangsamoro communities in 18 months, was only part of an extensive strategy to improve the lives of the Muslims of Mindanao.

The President pointed to verdant rolling hills beyond the MILF camp. “There are many idle lands that tillers could benefit from,” he said. “Why can’t development in other areas happen here in your place?”

He mentioned the development of sea-and-land travel to Mindanao, which would shorten travel to the island from Luzon from days to just 15 hours.

After the Sajahatra Bangsamoro launching, the President and his party moved to Datu Odin Sinsuat, where he opened a football match between government soldiers and MILF guerrillas.

Volleyball and softball matches were also lined up for the afternoon.

Government officials who traveled to Camp Darapanan with Aquino were Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles, Strategic Communication Secretary Ricky Carandang, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Secretary Lualhati Antonino of the Mindanao Development Authority, Heath Secretary Enrique Ona, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Higher Education Commissioner Patricia Licuanan and Director Joel Villanueva of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.—With reports from AP and AFP

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  • barok

    The only way Mindanao would prosper is to build the road to peace. Thanks for paving the way PNOY!

  • JasonBieber

    Yeah that’s what we all want. But wanting is different from actually accomplishing it.

    We just hope the President Aquino really means what he says and does what he promises. It would be terrible if this visit and words are just part of his election campaign…then after the elections the peace talks get forgotten.

  • $20722540

    you are dreaming pnoynot…not even in your lifetime

    • Bayang_magiliw

       Boy o kung ano ka man. Naiintindihan ko kung bakit galit ka kay Pnoy dahil alam kong malaki ang nawala sa iyo at ng buo mong pamilya nang nawala sa kapangyarihan si GMA. Sayang talaga at hindi na kayo makapag-abroad at mag-shopping courtesy of the peoples money. Pero haayan mo, susunod ka na rin at ang pamilya mong currupt so kulungan kasama si Gloria!

      • $20722540

        out of topic ka…wag kang satsat at di mo alam ko nasaan ako

  • okayayonip

    by hook or by crook dapat tapusin kung hindi at mamalasin at manalo si binay, dudurugin na naman ng AFP ang MILF at simula na naman ng walang katapusang giyera sa mindanao, bakit? kasi si erap ang magiging adviser ni binay kaya style asiong salonga ang solusyon. 

  • okayayonip

    WARNING sa mga taga Mindanao…  piliing mabuti ang inyong ibobotong senador, permanenteng katahimikan at kaayusan mula sa PNoy LP o giyera na naman courtesy of UNA’s erap, bago dumating sa inyo ang pera ng gobyerno ay dadaan muna sa bulsa ng mga binay, enrile at estrada, sayang na sayang ang bihirang pagkakataon ang dumarating kaya samantalahin ninyo ang programa ni PNoy.

  • kurakut

    right okayayonip!!! when pnoy steps down the ERAP-BINAY-ENRILE tentacles will slowly creep into MILFs peace. IBULSA NILA ANG PERA NG MINDANAO at GIYERA NA NAMAN. remember, there’s money in LIC-low intensity conflict. kawawa kayo dyan ‘pag nanalo ang mga iyan.

  • dequis

    kapag mga kandidato ng UNA pumunta din ng maguindanao lalot ang pinuntahan ay ang massacre site baka 12-0 pabor nila. sige nga pangunahan mo binay, dalhin mo anak mong si nancy, sama mo si johnny at jackie, si manong ernie, si erap, si mitos magsaysay, si inday gwen kahit hindi kandidato, sikat iyon. tingnan natin kung hindi aalkila ng backhoe ang mga milf para maghukay ng paglibingan ninyo

    • Ngiping Dilaw

      Napakalaki ng bigay na pera ni BS Aquino kay Murad noong nagusap sila sa Japan. Baka may kasunod pa yang daang milyong yan. Baka this time billion na ang bigay.

      • etomacq

        Tama. Noynoy will release billions of pesos to MILF in exchange for a 12-0 win by LP candidates in their territory. Pera pera lang yan.

  • AlexanderAmproz

    Ramos did Peace with everybody when he step in, at once !

    Erap did all war out to the Muslim’s when they step in !

    GMA did all war out to the “Communist’s”, Bayan Muna and Journalist’s !

    This unpleasant saga should be stopped once for all !

    Good luck to P-Noy, the danger is in his own family !

  • AlexanderAmproz

    Philippines wasn’t at war before the Christian rapist Colonialism,

    but today “real politic” is needed to put an end to this fraternal killings injected culture,

    on powers purposes, divide to rule !

    Tolerance on the both side will be everybody interests, 

    land grabbers Dynasties, Clergy, Officials and Trapos excepted !

  • sgt. saunders

    hoy supot, you’re not filipino so get out of this blog, this is only for true blooded filipinos, christians, or muslims, you do not have the balls, CHICKEN! Maligo ka na lang ng dugo ng baboy!

  • AlexanderAmproz

    Be smarter, every Muslim countries are at war, Malaysia and Dubai excepted !

    The smarter have the smarter results.

    Mindanao is beautiful and very rich, 

    inhabitants are charming, deserving a better destiny.

    Peace is the only way to bring Justice and Prosperity for all.

    Enjoy peace instead and endless awful war.

  • AlexanderAmproz

    Jesus never existed, as well as Moses, Jacub, Salomon and al.

    Those stories have a Gullible and destructions destination.

  • Bisdak_kaayo

    Mas may karapatan pa ang mga ABORIGINES na Pilipinas katulad ng mga AETA, MAMANUA, MANUVU to claim the philippines because they have been in country long before the MUSLIMS came.

    patawa ka.

    • AlexanderAmproz

      In fact the main Mindanao owners are mostly the Manobo’s,

      hunted like dogs by the Christians and Muslims rapists and abusers.

      Magsaysay was the Christians colonialism father, 

      to avoid land reform in Luzon and in the Vissayas.

      At that time Malay’s(Austro-Melanesian’s) where staying since about two thousands years on the shorelines as traditional traders and fishermen, one thousand years before Muslim existed.

      The inland is the Manobo’s Ancestors Domain Land, and nobody else,

      none Manila colonial tools, the rapists Chinoy’s alike the Consunji’s, 

      Cojuangco’s and other number one troubles makers(AFP, PNP) and Private Armies.

      Aetas are the Philippines first settlers since probably 30’000 thousands years,
      coming apparently from Ethiopia.

  • Jerry

    Magkano ba ang binayad syo.  Obvious naman na bayaran ka lang.  

    Taga Mindanao ako and I saw the solid friendship of Muslims and Christians living peacefully in the same neighborhood.  Cant get over ka talaga na it’s only thru peaceful means that Mindanao will prosper.  

    • Muhammad

      Peace is only possible when all of the Philippines becomes Muslim. therefore Smelly Christian Pigs deserves to be wiped out. :P

      • AlexanderAmproz

        War lovers are death lovers, you are smelly like an old double dead meat.

        If it’s your wish, you will disappeared before the peace is established.

      • Muhammad

        Every Smelly Christian Pigs in the Philippines will be slaughtered by our brave Mujahideens. including your Filthy Family. you just wait Christian ldiot

      • sgt. saunders

        galit si supot, tuli ka muna ha LOL

      • $20722540


  • Sandiego

    Your not a real Muslim. Stop pretending. Fake

    • Muhammad

      it’s supposed to be “You’re” not “Your” you Brainless Smelly Christian Pig :P You’re not smart. Stop pretending. ldiot

      • sgt. saunders

        Supot nandito ka pa pala, layas na utak kamote.

  • Muhammad

    Time to Change the Philippines flag. Replace the Sun with a Crescent Moon. Give in to Muslim demands or else.

    • ApoLapullapu

      Are you really a Muslim?  Do you submit completely to the will of Allah.  He did not tell his people to look for trouble.  The Surahs say that you fight to defend yourself when you are forced to worship gods other than Allah.  Who in the Philippines is/are forcing the Muslims to worship other gods?

  • Muhammad

    All of the Philippines belongs only to Muslims 

    • sgt. saunders

      Nandito ka pa rin, kawawa ka naman, puro katanganhan ang message mo dito. Uwi ka muna at mag research sa mga sinasabi mo para hindi ka napapahiya.

    • Bonggebongge

      T ang Ina  mo isa kang huwad…mas peke ka pa sa Jafake, wala kang magawa sa buhay mo and dami muslim na gusto ng kapayapaan ikaw naman pang gulo….nag mumuslim musliman ka pa dyan u lol….bobo ka at natuto ka lang bahagya mag photoshop pinalitan mo na bandila ng Pinas…bawakananag ina ka teteng ka…

  • AlexanderAmproz

    My Tausug’s and Maguindanao’s friends are charming and decent.

  • AlexanderAmproz


  • Guest13th

    Do not use our Prophet’s name if your going to start a conflict here. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) respected the Christians and Jews for they were the people of the book. Let there be peace.

  • ApoLapullapu

    Cebu had never been a Muslim island.  If Humabon was a Muslim he would have fought against Magellan.  The Islamic religion was brought into this country by the Arab missionaries.  All lands in the present Philippines belonged to the natives.  They were neither Christians nor Muslims before the Spaniards and Arabs came into this country.  The Muslim and Christian missionaries did not reach all the Subanens, Higaonons, T’bolis and other tribes in Mindanao.. Up to this day some of these people continue to worship God their own traditional ways.

  • ApoLapullapu

    This Muhammad is not a Muslim.  He does not know that according to the Holy Qur’an, Allah gave Miriam (Mary) and Isa (Jesus) to show us how to live the Islamic way.  Neither Mary nor Jesus taught us to fight and kill people. Killing is allowed by the Qur’an only on one condition: That a Muslim is being forced to worship other gods. Perhaps, he just want to derail the peace process between the government and the MILF.

  • tabingbakod

    Hooray for peace!

    Side note:
    After all the time and money Filipinos spend on basketball, football was played after the historic visit. The Philippines also played football with Vietnam as a gesture of peace in light of the Spratlys dispute.
    I have nothing against basketball but I hope a lot more Filipinos learn, appreciate and play football. Filipinos can love more than one sport, more than two even. 

    Any sport is better than killing each other but football is chosen most of the time even for basketball crazy Filipinos

  • ApoLapullapu

    I usually criticize when the President commits mistakes.  But in this situation, I agree with him that a Comprehensive Agreement must be reached.  This way no future President can use his whims and caprices to change the Mindanao Policy and create trouble.  The all-out war created great damage in Mindanao to both Christians and Muslims simply because the President used a showbiz approach instead of a comprehensive solution to a complex problem.

  • Olibo

    Good luck to MILF and PH gov’t c/o Noynoy.  Nawa’y hindi makahadlang sa proseso ng kapayapaan, kundi mahikayat din natin ang ilang Muslim at Kristianong hanggang ngayon ay nakatanim ang pagkamuhi sa isa’t-isa. Iisang bansa lang ang tinitirhan natin. Daang taon na tayong magkakasama, at maraming pagkakataon na tayo ay nagtulungan sa hirap at laban sa mga kaaway ng Pilipinas.It’s time to give peace a chance. MABUHAY!  ASSALAM-MALAICUM!

  • Yobhtron

    Alhamdulillah! Shukran jazeelan President Pnoy!

  • samarutan

    But the full details of the agreement are still being “thrashed out”. Paging Inquirer!

  • Ngiping Dilaw

    Noong nagusap sa Japan tong mga to almost two hundred million ang bigay ni Mr. President kay Ebrahim Murad! Sino daw ang matapang na pupunta doon. Kung milyon ang bigay mo sure safe ka. Baka this time Billion na ang ibinigay.

    • etomacq

      Money talks..Money can buy peace.

    • 3Heat0

      puro intriga. cno source mo? BOY ABUNDA?????

      • Ngiping Dilaw

        Two months ago nasa news ng lahat ng newspaper noong nagusap sa Japan si President Aquino at Murad di mo nabasa? Nadoon sa news kung magkano ang ibinigay.

      • Peter L

        And you believed it is true???

    • jurbinsky77

       ‘sus ginoo. Haka-haka ng mga kampon ni gloria. Pati iyong nasa appropriations act, akala ng bayan, suhol kay murad.

      Bakit hindi ka na lang manahimik.

  • AlexanderAmproz

    Mindanao problem is mostly a justice case provoked by Manila Chinese’s land grabbersTaipan’s with their Privates Armies and death squads to keep stollen assets.

    With Peace, justice will follow, this is very bad for the Cojuangco’s and Consunji’s, the Mindanao main “owners”, World most incredibles Abusers and Killers !

    Religious controversies are almost nil, but used by abusers to blow on the ashes for destabilization’s purposes, same with the CIA terrorists bombings done in Zamboanga Market and Davao Airport, apparently done for Bali devastating horrors justifications.

    Some wants the world to believe Muslims are bad.
    During my numerous trip in the South, I never notice any differences in-between the Pinoy’s brothers, except the Manila Imperial domination, a repulsive Chinoy’s colonialism putting the whole country in danger, North to South…

  • Peter L

    As long as the Muslim Filipinos never renounce their dream to have a state of their own, there can never be peace in Mindanao. Brother Muslims your dream will never come true! 

  • Febien Lopez

    Two months ago nasa news ng lahat ng newspaper noong nagusap sa Japan si President Aquino at Murad di mo nabasa? Nadoon sa news kung magkano ang ibin

  • Febien Lopez

    Nakoo three years na as President si Aquino pero walang pagbabago. Walang accomplishment na makikita. Sana sa susunod ang maging Presidente ay yung magaling talaga. Pasang awa lang tong Aquino Administration! Magulo pa rin sa Mindanao.

    • jurbinsky77

      Ang gulo ng mga taga-Mindanao, kasalanan ito ni penoy.

      Kahit nakikita na ang mechanics at execution ng procedural aspect, nagrereklamo parin kayo? Noong panahon ni Estrada at Arroyo, walang solution being pursued, OK lang kayo.

  • anak ng sultan

    kung kelan bumisita si PNOY saka naman panay ang block out.. akala ko tuloy hinostage na si PNOY… GOODLUCK MR. PRES…. lets give PEACE A CHANCE SABI NGA NI TITA CORY NOON..

  • Swerting

    ang mga tao nga naman kung babasahin mo ang mga comment gumagawa ng hakbang ang pangulo ng maging mapayapa na ang Mindanao ina akusahan parin.Para sa akin isang katapangan ang ginawa ni Pnoy at magandang hakbang yan para sa kapayapaan sana nga lang pag mapayapa na ang minadanao wag nang makialam ang mga Muslim country sa mindanao pigilan silang mamalagi dyan o sumuporta hayaan ang taga mindanao na lutasin at payamanin nila ang sarili nilang bayan.At sana igalang din nila ang mga christiano na naninirahan sa Mindanao.

  • disqusted0fu

    Just another publicity stunt. Very timely for the May elections. Pnoy has been on campaign mode since 2010, he is just turning it up a notch now that there actually is an upcoming elections. Nothing new here. Still no achievements, no developments. Same old, same old.

    • Manuel

      Sana IKAW na lang ang pangulo ng Pilipinas !!!  Utak talangka !

      • Ornbort Vortingeresdemesus

        read the sign…nowhere does it say the name of the county. we can only attain progress when we stop thinking in terms of us and what is ours. 

      • Ornbort Vortingeresdemesus

        that said, isn’t there anyone who has the guts to change the name of the country to something we all believe in? aren’t you guys all from north to south tired of the country being named after some punk ancient king?

      • AlexanderAmproz

        Philippe is a horse rider first name by ancient Greek’s, its mean the man who love horses.
        At IV BC(2500 Years ago) Alexander the Great father first name was Philippe II. This first name became famous thank’s Alexander. Many Roman Emperor and European Kings adopted it.
        King Philippe II of Spain gave his name to the Archipelago “discovered” by Magellan, he was the son of Charles V, known as the most powerful man ever existed.
        It’s a bit late to kick out the Spanish heritage totally impregnated in the Archipelago daily life. 
        Should at first change every languages of the country, most of the cities, first names and family names.
        The worst of all who destroyed all identities and cultures was the criminal Clergy ruling on purposes to rape the Country.
        Shouldn’t forget the disastrous US influences(Food, guns totting, violences, money obsessions, racism, etc.)

        There we are today, in one of the deepest mess !

        Every changes not done carefully step by step will increase the mess. It will be smart to use and promote the uncountable existing advantages.
        Few of them are :
        –Spanish is the world most spoken language before English. The business and the world cultures are OPEN with those two languages, not too bad !
        –Geographic location is in the heart of boomings economies,
        nature environment is one of the best, but under an absolutely successful destruction by ignorances and an absolute greed.

        What Philippines need urgently is at first Education, Social Justice, peace and security. Bases for every developments.

        Without those few elements nothing is possible.

        Tell me what improvement was brought to Burma when they change their country name into Myanmar ?
        Maybe a bit more messy as it was !

      • Ornbort Vortingeresdemesus

        nakapangalan tayo sa lalaking mahilig magmahal ng kabayo? oh no!

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