President Aquino vows to remain a ‘friend and ally’ of peace
MANILA— President Aquino pledged, on Thursday, his continued support for the Mindanao peace process, even as a private citizen.
Mr. Aquino, who made the peace in Mindanao a cornerstone of his six-year administration, made this promise at the launch of “Junctures,” a compilation of selected speeches and statements made throughout the peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“In 21 days, I will be stepping down from office, but to all of you in attendance today, and to each person of goodwill who wishes to fulfill the promise of Mindanao, I will remain your friend and ally. Tell me how I can help this process, even as an ordinary citizen, and I will be by your side,” the President said at the event held at Malacañang.
The President also expressed hope that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which the 15th Congress shelved, would be passed by the next Congress.
“The book we launch today tells of the journey we have taken these past six years. We launch it fully aware that the journey is still ongoing—that there are more challenges we must overcome, and triumphs that await all of us. It instills in us the awareness that we are, once more, at a juncture, where we must choose between reverting to the status quo of the past, or continuing our progress far into the future,” Mr. Aquino said.
“At the same time, I am also hopeful that it will remind us of the successes we have enjoyed so far—that it may stand as an enduring symbol of our restored faith in one another—not as opponents in a negotiating table, but as fellowmen who share a home. I truly believe that our combined efforts can bring about a Mindanao—and a Philippines—that is free from conflict, one that we can be proud to bequeath to future generations,” he added.
In a statement, MILF chieftain, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said the book stood for a “common pursuit” of the Philippine government and the MILF “to educate and spread the word of peace in the context of the Bangsamoro.”
Murad was unable to attend the book launch as he was still recovering from an eye surgery. MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal read Murad’s statement and extended the MILF head’s apology to President Aquino and the audience for his absence.
Murad emphasized the power of words in his statement, giving as an example President Aquino’s “affirmation and acceptance of the Bangsamoro” in his speech at the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in 2012.
“Words, indeed, are the most powerful weapon. They can ignite a fire within the minds of those who hear them. They can move people to action. They can dictate the trajectory of events that follow. Words can fool or rule,” Murad said. SFM
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