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Mindanao leader appeals for earnest consultations after peace pact signing

October 14, 2012 7:46pm
On the eve of the signing of the landmark peace agreement in Malacañang, a leader in Mindanao appealed to stakeholders to do earnest consultations with the people in threshing out key issues to achieve lasting peace in the southern Philippines.

In a text message to GMA News Online, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Social Action Movement (ASAM) president Sultan Bobby Datimbang said the signing of the landmark agreement – which is expected to replace the ARMM with the Bangsamoro entity – is only the beginning of a long process towards peace.

"After the signing of the peace agreement between the government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), we still have a long, long way to go. The pact is only the beginning," said Datimbang, who is running for the ARMM vice-gubernatorial post in the 2013 polls.
 
"Magandang simula ang peace agreement, ngunit pagkatapos ng signing, dapat may magaganap na makatotohanang konsultasyon sa mga Muslim, Kristiyano at pati na rin ang mga tribo sa Mindanao," he added.

According to him, poverty is the main cause of conflict in Mindanao and solving it is a key factor in achieving peace and unity there.
 
ASAM – which according to Datimbang is composed of Muslims and Christians in at least five provinces – is working for peace, development and real autonomy of the Bangsamoro people, even as it is firming up concrete development agenda centered on peace, unity, livelihood development and substantial reform in the regions' governance.

"Ang kaguluhan sa Mindanao ay naka-ugat sa kahirapan. Kaya ang paghahanap ng kabuhayan para sa mga tao doon ay katumbas na rin ng pagtatatag ng isang mapayapang pamayanan na may pagkakaisa," Datimbang added.

Non-Muslim leader backs peace pact
 
A non-Muslim leader in Mindanao also expressed support for the GPH-MILF framework peace agreement, hoping it will end, once-and-for-all, the decades-old conflict in the south.

Also in a text message to GMA News Online on Sunday, Compostela Valley Governor Arturo Uy said he is convinced that the framework peace agreement could start the first step in achieving peace in the region.

"Pwede talagang maumpisahan ang mga unang hakbang para sa kapayapaan sa rehiyon na sama-samang naging tahanan ng mga Muslim, Kristiyano at ethnic tribes," Uy said.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said the "Lakbay Kalinaw" "touched down" in Manila and headed for Mendiola Bridge near Malacañang.

"Touch down Manila na po ang Lakbay Kalinaw. Expected time of arrival in Mendiola is 3:30 p.m.," the OPAPP said on its Twitter account.

On Saturday, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the caravan participants are to hold a vigil at Mendiola.

The caravan's participants had supported the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Negotiators of the government and MILF are to sign a framework peace agreement Monday in Malacañan Palace. — LBG, GMA News
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