Aquino eyes signing of GPH-MILF comprehensive peace agreement by March

February 12, 2013 1:31 am 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

SULTAN KUDARAT, Maguindanao, Feb. 11 — President Benigno Aquino III Monday said the signing of the much-awaited comprehensive peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front might happen this March.

"I think we’re very, very close to agreements on all the points. Pero, as you know, I don’t like to give deadlines even to people investigating crimes," the President said in an interview with the media at the sidelines of the launching of the "Sajahatra Bangsamoro" program here.

"This is a consensual process. We are trying to achieve consensus and it will take its natural course but we think it might be earlier… at least earlier than the end of March," he noted.

In his speech at the launching of the "Sajahatra Bangsamoro," Aquino said the peace negotiations moved forward "unhindered by secrecy and manipulation, and propelled by solidarity towards the shared goal of empowering every Filipino in the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao)."

"Others have stumbled in the past. We were determined not to make the same mistakes, we were determined not to succumb to indiscriminate knee-jerk reactions borne out of anger, or to cast aside true consensus, or favor concealment over transparency in negotiations," he said.

"At ngayon po, ang ipinapakita natin sa pamamagitan nitong Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program — Hindi na kailangang maghintay ng mahabang panahon upang madanas ang pagbabago; ang puwedeng simulan o ipatupad ngayon, sisimulan at ipapatupad natin ngayon. Hindi na kailangang tumanda ng labing-isang libong benepisyaryo ng MILF nang hindi nasasaklaw ng PhilHealth coverage o ng Cash for Work program. Hindi na po kailangang mamuti ng buhok ng mga komunidad sa kakahintay. Hindi na kailangang mag-abang ang 500 kabataang Moro ng maraming taon para makapag-aral, dahil sa ipamamahaging mga scholarship sa ilalim ng programang ito," he stressed.

The President said the administration's goal is to "accelerate the transition of MILF communities steeped in armed struggle to a productive citizenry that buys into the national agenda, and contributes to our shared goal of equitable progress."

"When once they treated themselves with herbs from the jungle, soon they will have health insurance, and will be cared for by trained doctors and nurses in state-funded health centers. When once children were taught merely the histories of suffering inside their madaris, soon they will also learn that peace can triumph," he said.

President Aquino said this will only happen as long as "we open our hearts and allow ourselves to trust our fellow men. And when once they felt oppressed under the cloud of conflict, soon they will feel empowered, illumined by the daylight of peace."

The launching of the Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program was just the beginning, the President said, a broad strategy of the government to uplift the lives of the people in Mindanao, and go to ensure that nobody will be left behind in the pursuit of the "tuwid na daan" (righteous path).

"Kinakaya po nating pangarapin ang mga ito, dahil sa tiwalang ipinapakita ng liderato ni kapatid na (MILF peace panel chair) Al Haj Murad (Ebrahim) at ng central committee ng MILF at pati na rin po ang inyong mga fighters," he noted.

"Alam ko pong hindi madali ang magbukas ng puso sa gobyerno matapos ang apat na dekadang pakikipaglaban. Ngunit nakita po ni Al Haj Murad — Ito na ang pagkahinog ng mga sakripisyo ninyo, ni Hashim Salamat na nauna sa kanya, at ng napakarami pang mga kapatid na dumaan sa pasakit upang makamtan ang kapayapaan at sapat na kalinga mula sa estado at sa gobyerno. Hindi na kailangang baril ang ipamana sa susunod na henerasyon ng mga Moro," he added.

Aquino said: "Darating ang panahon, kung papalarin po akong may susunod ho sa akin, ay maipamana natin sa susunod na salinlahi, hindi na karahasan, hindi na pananakot, hindi na kaba ngunit talagang tanda na lahat ay maatim o makukuha ng Pilipinong nakakaisa. Magagawa po natin ‘yan ‘wag lang tayong bibitaw sa pagtitiwala sa isa’t isa." (PNA)

HBC/LGI

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