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Binay, business bullish on peace deal with MILF

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 02:18 AM March 28, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—Vice President Jejomar Binay on Thursday said he was hopeful that the signing of a final peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would bring progress to Mindanao.

“I am hopeful that with this act of unity and goodwill, we will finally usher in a new era of genuine and equitable growth and development for our Muslim brothers and sisters and the people of Mindanao,” the Vice President said in a statement issued from The Hague, the Netherlands.

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The Vice President is in The Hague to represent President Aquino in the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit.

Binay said the signing of the peace agreement was “the first step in the long and determined journey to peace and progress in Mindanao.”

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The Vice President urged all Filipinos to support the agreement.

“The support and participation of the people as we move forward will be crucial in the success of our undertaking,” he said.

“May this pact also remind us that we are all Filipinos, regardless of color or religion—one nation, one people—working together to build a better nation and a better life for everyone,” Binay added.

Peace within reach

The Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID) also welcomed the signing of the peace deal, saying that after more than 17 years of the peace process between the government and the MILF, “sustainable peace seems to be within reach and with it, the transformation of Bangsamoro and Mindanao dreams to reality.”

“We hope that with this agreement in place, the government can now work on the convergence of the two peace agreements forged with the [Moro National Liberation Front] and the MILF, and proceed to focus much needed attention on the socioeconomic and political development of the region to attain genuine autonomy,” lawyer Salma Pir Rasul, PCID executive director, said in a statement.

Rasul said the PCID believed that the peace agreement, if realized, would provide a strong foundation for prosperity and inclusive growth, not just for the Bangsamoro but for all peoples of Mindanao and the entire country as well.

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Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said the signing of the peace deal would clear the way not only for lasting peace but also economic development in Mindanao.

“[We hope], over a few years, as peace settles in the area and as perceptions of Mindanao change, massive investment [in the region] can be expected,” Domingo said.

In a statement, the Makati Business Club (MBC) lauded the government officials and MILF leaders who worked on the peace accord and Malaysia, which brokered peace talks between the two sides.

“MBC believes that the process that led to this final peace accord was conducted with utmost respect for the principles of fairness, transparency and inclusivity,” the group said.

Swift basic law passage

The MBC urged swift action by Congress for the approval of the Bangsamoro basic law.

“We repeat our shared aspiration that the basic law, which the government has committed to certify as urgent legislation, will truly embody the aspirations of the Bangsamoro and usher the region toward greater economic, social and cultural activity,” the MBC said.

Peace in Mindanao will make the region “a truly vibrant and essential part of the Philippine economic engine,” especially if Filipino businessmen will also begin to invest heavily in the Bangsamoro,” it said.

“We believe that the success of the peace deal hinges largely on genuine economic development, and the improvements in the quality of the lives of the people, both in the Bangsamoro and in Mindanao as a whole. We are hopeful that the effective implementation of the agreement will unlease the region’s vast potentials for agriculture and agribusiness investment, tourism and natural resources development, among others,” the group said.

The MBC said, however, that unresolved matters involving the MNLF must be settled to ensure political and economic stability in Mindanao.

“[I]t may be high time for the MNLF and the MILF to come together and identify points of consensus between the 1996 Final Peace Agreement and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro on which a more sustainable and lasting peace in Mindanao can be built,” the group said.

Peace and prosperity

The Foundation for Economic Freedom hailed the signing of the peace accord and urged swift passage of the Bangsamoro basic law.

“Passage of the basic law will be a giant step toward peace and prosperity in Mindanao,” the foundation said in a statement.

“The lack of peace, law and order, and political instability have been identified as constraints to doing business in Mindanao. The signing of a peace agreement with the MILF will help address these constraints. The peace agreement, together with a clear set of policies and the establishment of strong institutions, will encourage the entry of new businesses and pave the way toward inclusive growth,” the foundation said.

Transportation

Michael Sagcal, spokesman for the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), welcomed the signing of the peace agreement, saying peace would clear the way for the creation of independent airport and seaport authorities.

Sagcal said the DOTC would not oppose the creation of such agencies.

The private sector also favors the creation of separate air and sea authorities, which investors believe will have a positive impact on tourism and trade.

Alfredo Yao, founder and CEO of budget airline AirAsia Zest, said the carrier was studying direct flights between Kuala Lumpur and Davao and other potential gateways to Mindanao.—With reports from  Doris Dumlao, Miguel Camus and Ben O. de Vera

 

 

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TAGS: businesses, Jejomar Binay, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Peace agreement, signing
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