Palace hosts Eid’l Fitr dinner
MANILA, Philippines — Celebrating Eid’l Fitr in Malacañang, President Aquino on Tuesday night enjoined the Muslim Filipinos to help stop saboteurs of the peace process, even as Moro leader Nur Misuari reportedly declared independence.
Hosting an Eid’l Fitr dinner for Muslims, the President said that a “peaceful Mindanao” has come into view but told his guests to exert “superior effort” to quell any attempt to derail peace talks with the Moro rebels.
The President said enormous work lay ahead of the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law next year, but said both the government and the Muslims should band together to attain “shared goals.”
“There are those who are committed to perpetuating the conditions that led to the misery of many and enrich a powerful few. Therefore, all of us, who are people of goodwill must overcome every obstacle they placed in our path,” the President told the guests.
Every effort to disrupt the peace process “should be met by our superior effort,” he stressed.
“In this manner, we will ensure that justice we are in the right, our just cause will prevail. Our commitment to positive change will therefore determine the outcome of our endeavors, just as you have all fasted and fulfilled warrant the great obligations of your faith,” he said.
The guests also included senators, justices, diplomats, Cabinet and government officials, including Commissioner Mehol Sadain of the National Commission on Muslim Affairs.
Central Mindanao was rocked by four bombings in recent weeks that left over a dozen people dead and scores wounded, and which authorities had blamed on local groups out to undermine talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The government is set to resume talks with the MILF in Kuala Lumpur on the remaining annexes of the October 2012 framework agreement. Both panels are bidding to forge by year-end a comprehensive agreement setting up a new Bangsamoro territory.
Up for talks are the annexes on normalization and power-sharing. In July, both panels signed the contentious annex on revenue and wealth-sharing.
All the annexes, together with last year’s framework agreement on Bangsamoro, would form part of the final comprehensive peace agreement.
The President said the framework agreement signed by the government and the MILF last year was a “testament to the meaningful change that can be borne of true partnership and a willingness to sacrifice.”
“Now, our goal of a peaceful and prosperous Mindanao has come into view. We still have some steps to go as we work to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law by 2014,” he said.
That was why, it was necessary for all “to find in our hearts the trust and goodwill necessary for the fulfillment of our dreams of peace,” he added, stressing “Bear in mind not the interest of the few but the betterment of the majority.”
As Aquino talked peace, Habib Hashim, chairman of the Islamic Command Council of the MNLF, confirmed to ABS-CBN that he received unofficial information that Misuari declared independence in Indanan, Sulu on July 29.
Misuari has expressed dismay over the government’s failure to fully implement the 1996 peace deal with the MNLF, and its assiduousness to forge another deal with the MILF, which split from the MNLF.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said intelligence authorities were verifying reports of Misuari’s declaration of independence, even as he confirmed there were no efforts to reach out to him.
“If you are a person from Muslim Mindanao, you’re looking at the prospects of peace versus the ghosts of war, you’d rather go for the prospects of peace,” Lacierda said in a briefing.
After witnessing the decades of conflict, and facing fresh prospects of peace with the framework agreement, Misuari should “not look at his own personal interest” but look at the national interest of Mindanaoans, Lacierda said.
The President said all Filipinos, whether Muslims or Christians, were commanded by faith “to help the poor and protect the defenseless,” and make the world a “haven for the oppressed.”
“These are the shared imperatives of every Filipino. These shed light on the narratives of faith that bind us and allow us to pursue a common vision as one Filipino nation,” he said.
Aquino said that their gathering Tuesday night was a reminder that greater things could be achieved if all work “hand in hand” and “that it is by living the virtues life in solidarity that we ensure stability and harmony in our communities, and ultimately in our country.”
“This is precisely the path our administration has taken ever since we assumed office by doing what is right and just. We have regained the trust and confidence of our people and have enabled them to live dignified lives. Tonight, we share fellowship in that spirit of trust and dignity,” he said.
Aquino aired the hope that every Filipino would emulate the Muslims’ “kindness, humility and devotion to sacrifice” which are fundamental to achieving lasting peace in the country.
“And as we tread the straight path to progress and peace, it is our prayer that the Almighty God will continue to guide us, giving our nation the fortitude and determination to overcome the challenges set before us so, that we, as one people, may fulfill our collective aspirations,” he said.
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