Army, Mindanao leaders welcome peace deal
MANILA — Leaders of the business community and civil society in Mindanao expressed support behind the forging of a draft framework peace agreement between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Bronx Hebrona, regional governor for Southwestern Mindanao of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), said Mindanao traders were optimistic that the agreement reached in Malaysia would eventually lead to a permanent peace deal.
“It is very heartening that prospects for a final peace agreement are getting brighter. An agreement finally looks closer at hand. I am very confident that the MILF and the GPH will earnestly and sincerely rise above the current realities and challenges to finally attain lasting peace in Mindanao,” Hebrona said.
“The peace dividend that will ensue will undoubtedly positively impact not only the business climate but eventually the quality of life of all Mindanaons,” Hebrona added. “We, in the business sector in Mindanao, trust that our brothers in the MILF and the administration of PNoy will pursue peace relentlessly until a final agreement is signed.”
PCCI Vice President for Mindanao Ricardo Juliano echoed Hebrona’s observation, saying that a successful peace agreement would benefit “not only Mindanao but the entire country as well.”
“We are fully supporting the peace process,” Juliano said. “We have high hopes for this administration.”
Mindanao civil society leaders, on the other hand, commended those responsible for ushering a “favorable” atmosphere that led to the forging of a framework agreement.
“The signing of a GPH-MILF peace accord is an act of humility and should usher in graciousness and agreements among people on the ground,” said EJ Matela, executive director of the Mindanao Land Foundation, Inc. (MinLand), a non-governmental organization based in Kidapawan City.
“Thoughts of real peace, justice and prosperity thus become more real and attainable,” Matela added. “Our prayers and thanks to our leaders and all the people who are working hard to make this magnanimous act possible.”
Matela is a Minland Foundation past director for post conflict and rural services.
For her part, Aveen Acuna-Gulo, an official of the Cotabato-based Institute for Autonomy and Governance that is handling a European Union-funded project for Indigenous Peoples in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (Armm), said the time was ripe for the signing of a peace agreement between the government and the MILF.
“I see that there has been no environment such as this current one that favors a signing; everything is positive,” said Acuna-Gulo.
“To keep my support attuned to my current work, let me say that ‘I am confident that the issues affecting the Indigenous Peoples in the Armm are very much in the radar screens of both panels, and there has to be a first step — which is the signing of a peace agreement,” Acuna-Gulo explained. “The work of empowering the Indigenous Peoples in the Armm continues.”
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) likewise welcomed the framework peace agreement saying it hoped the accord would bring “sustainable growth and unhampered development” to Mindanao.
Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations Rear Admiral Miguel Jose Rodriguez said the military will continue to support all peace initiatives and peace-building efforts of the government.
Rodriguez added that consistent with the goals of the AFP’s Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan (IPSP Bayanihan), “the military, in cooperation and with the support of the concerned agencies and non-government organizations, will exhaust all the avenues leading to peace and resolving conflicts.”
Peace advocates from the Church, academe and youth sectors in Mindanao also lauded the framework agreement.
Fr. Angel Calvo, a Claretian priest and well-known Mindanao peace advocate based in Basilan Province, said President Benigno Aquino III would be fulfilling his family’s legacy and advancing the national interest once a final peace agreement is reached.
He noted that the late Senator Ninoy Aquino reached out to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) during his term while the late President Corazon Aquino personally met with MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari to advance the cause of peace in Mindanao.
The United States government also welcomed Sunday the agreement between the Government of the Philippines and MILF.
President Aquino announced Sunday that the government and MILF forged a framework agreement that provides the foundation for a lasting peace in Mindanao. Below is the draft agreement between the Philippine government and MILF. (SUNNEX)
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