Senators commend Palace for signed peace pact with MILF

October 15, 2012 10:32 pm 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Oct. 15 – Senators have joined the nation in commending the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for a historic signing on Monday of the peace framework agreement aimed at ending the generations-old conflict in Mindanao.

”It’s a new dawn of peace in Mindanao. I’m very hopeful. This is a step in the right direction. I congratulate the government peace panel, MILF and the third party institutions,” Senator Teofisto Guingona III said.

”I am confident that through this framework agreement, we will be able to address the signficant issues in Bangsamoro’s fiscal autonomy, resource generation, and local government relations,” Guingona, a senator from Mindanao, said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada expressed optimism that the framework agreement will be a start of a new era in Philippine politics.

“I am hopeful that this occasion will signal the start of meaningful reforms and the achievement of long-lasting peace in the region. I think the people of Mindanao have suffered long enough from widespread poverty, insurgence and corruption,” Estrada said.

Estrada also cited that the breakthrough agreement could let Mindanao into becoming the food basket of the country.

“My father, former President Joseph Estrada, has envisioned the Mindanao region as the country’s food basket and he pushed for projects like building a railway system and food handling facilities, as supported and endorsed by various international organizations,” Estrada said.

The younger Estrada said that the signing of the framework agreement was but an initial step according to a comprehensive roadmap envisioned by the Aquino administration.

Estrada also remained positive that unlike previous agreements entered into by the government, this one will succeed and will be implemented faithfully to the mutual advantage of both parties and the Filipino people.

Senator Franklin Drilon reiterated his call to the Filipino people to give the peace a chance.

“Finally, we are close to achieving a just and lasting peace for the people of Mindanao. I congratulate the government and the MILF, as well as the other parties involved in making this peace pact possible, for their efforts to finally put an end to decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao,” Drilon said.

“This peace agreement is being done within the framework of the Constitution and is characterized by transparency and proper consultations with the people of Mindanao,” Drilon said.

Drilon said in the proposed budget now being deliberated upon in Congress, the government have allotted P258.4 billion for Mindanao. In the P165.6 billion 2013 budget of the DWPH, 26.4 percent of it, equivalent to P43.72 billion will go to Mindanao to ramp up the construction of roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects in Mindanao.”

Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano welcomed the framework agreement, hoping it would end 40-year lingering war that displaced hundreds of thousands and killed over 120,000 people and impoverished millions due to undeveloped economy in Mindanao.

”The momentum and goodwill created by this initial agreement should spur government to deliver quality education, job opportunities and equal political and social rights to the people of Mindanao and prevent them from going back to armed rebellion as these are the fundamental rights that our countrymen have long been deprived of,” Cayetano said.

”I would also like to laud the Aquino administration for ensuring that this agreement went through the proper consultation process, for unlike the way the Arroyo administration handled the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), it has been transparent about the terms of the Agreement,” Cayetano said.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile also supported the peace agreement, vowing to do the Senate’s legislative duty to assure the successful implementation of the peace pact.

”Congress should act on what the agreement that have been agreed upon by both panels and as what I have said in the previous interview, this is doable,” Enrile said.

For his part, Estrada said both houses of Congress “are still duty-bound to tackle every minute detail of the bill to be drafted by the Transition Commission,”

”The law will have to be ratified by the people of Mindanao through a plebiscite. There is a long and winding road ahead of us, but I look forward to witnessing the birth of new Mindanao by the end of it,”Estrada said.

Estrada recommended that the government keep an eye on small groups of bandits and terrorists, like the Abu Sayyaf, who will do anything to sabotage the framework agreement.

The signing of the framework agreement was witnessed by President Benigno Aquino III, MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at the Malacanang. (PNA)

RMA/JFM

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