Saturday, 29 May 2010

PGMA to continue Mindanao peace initiatives in next Congress

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo today vowed to continue her peace initiatives, particularly in Mindanao, after her term ends on June 30 and as soon as she has joined the next Congress as representative for Pampanga’s second district.

“When I became President, I declared a policy of all-out peace in Mindanao. As President, I have fought every day in office to bring that peace to that great island. I will continue to do so until the last minute of my term as President and maybe even beyond. As Congresswoman I will file the bills that I feel are needed in order to bring just and lasting peace in Mindanao,” the President said.

The President was the guest of honor and speaker this morning at the close of the two-day Roundtable Dialogue with International Negotiators jointly sponsored by Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue at the New World Hotel in Makati City.

As a new representative, the President said she will file a bill in Congress calling for a policy review towards an enhanced autonomy in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to fully realize the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.

“It will be an enhanced autonomy, that's one very basic bill that we will file,” the President said in a media interview after the event.

During her speech, the President said the individual experiences shared by the international negotiators in the conference are timely in helping find a solution to the decades-old problem in Mindanao.

“Mindanao is poised for peace. Whether we achieve it in the near future remains to be seen. For sure, there is more work to be done, but the efforts we have made over the last nine years have brought us closer to achieving long-term peace in the region,” the President said.

The foreign speakers invited to the Makati conference were former Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who helped resolved several conflicts in Indonesia; Ireland’s Gerry Kelly, who played a key role in successful negotiations between the British government and the Irish Republican Army (IRA); Dr. Nureldin Satti, who helped bring peace in Sudan and Burundi; Prof. Omar Dajani, who participated in the negotiation between Israel and Palestine; and Aceh Gov. Irwandi Yusuf, who played a key role in the signing of the Helsinki peace talks between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement.

Also present from the Philippine side were Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Annabelle Abaya and Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) peace panel chief Ambassador Rafael Seguis.

The President said that since 2001, her administration has worked hard to bring peace and development to Mindanao to tap it’s potentials as the country’s food basket.

“We are making small but important steps toward long-term peace. We always knew from day one that this is a process that will take time and patience but what is important is that we are continuing to make progress in the right direction,” the President said.

To bring the country closer to the completion of the peace process, the President said various agreements have been signed over the last nine years with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), including those with bearing to the ongoing peace negotiations facilitated by Malaysia and the 2003 ceasefire which holds until today..

“What is needed now is recognition by all parties that a political settlement will transform the peace on the ground to a permanent and just peace, and lead to better economic prospects and a brighter future for the people of Mindanao, That is the best result for everyone,” the President said.

The President thanked the support of the international community and other stakeholders in helping establish a new paradigm for peace aside from providing moral, financial and diplomatic support to the peace efforts in Mindanao. (PND)

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