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Aquino has word of honor, says MILF commander

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President Aquino: Palabra de honor FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—President Aquino’s peace initiative in Mindanao is fostering a lot of goodwill and is seen to likely result in political dividends for Team PNoy in the May elections.

“He has word of honor,” said rebel commander Abufahad Kinda just before Aquino arrived at the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, on Monday morning.

During the historic visit, the President, together with MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, launched a socioeconomic program for the 12,000-strong rebel group following the signing by both groups of a preliminary peace deal in October last year.

Next month, the government and the MILF are expected to sign the comprehensive peace agreement establishing the Bangsamoro entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Given the huge capital the administration has invested to win the peace, Kinda, deputy commander of the MILF Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces-Central Mindanao Front, said Aquino’s candidates for senator were expected to get the support of the rebel group.

“We will repay his sincerity,” he said. “If he asks for our support for his candidates, there should be a mutual understanding. Sixty to seventy percent will support him.”

On Ebrahim’s orders, at least 90 percent of the MILF guerrillas registered for the elections that will coincide with the ARMM elections and for the eventual referendum to ratify the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will be crafted by a transition commission and enacted by Congress.

Team PNoy’s 12 senatorial candidates were not invited to the launch of Sajahatra Bangsamoro, where Aquino handed out health insurance cards and college and livelihood training scholarships to the rebels, so as not to taint it with political color.

Kinda said the MILF had full trust in Aquino because he always kept his word to the Moro rebels.

Since the peace initiatives began, trust has been built not only between Aquino and Ebrahim, but between Muslims and Christians in Mindanao, Kinda said.

“We’re happy about the sincerity we’re seeing,” he added. “He keeps his word.”

Aquino has said that the “seeds of trust” between himself and Murad were sown during their meeting in Tokyo in August 2011.

From then on, both the government and the MILF worked hard together to craft a peace deal “unhindered by secrecy and manipulation, and propelled by solidarity towards the shared goal of empowering every Filipino in the ARMM,” Aquino said.


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Tags: Abufahad Kinda , Benigno Aquino III , Moro Islamic Liberation Front , Muslim insurgency , peace process , Philippines




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