MANILA Peace advocates from the Church, academe and youth sectors in Mindanao commended the members of the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for succeeding in forging a draft framework peace agreement that will determine the roadmap for a permanent peace accord in Mindanao.
Fr. Angel Calvo, a Claretian priest and well-known Mindanao peace advocate based in Basilan Province, said Mindanao residents who have been following the peace negotiations between the government and MILF panels, were harboring high expectations that finally a peace accord can be reached and presented to the people
Calvo is the lead convenor of the Mindanao Peaceweavers, a civil society organization that monitors the ceasefire agreement between government and MILF forces in Mindanao.
We will all gain from a permanently peaceful Mindanao, because terrorism and warlordism shall be diminished. It will open wider the doors of trade and tourism with neighboring Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand to the great benefit of Mindanao, if not the entire country, he added.
Calvo said the members of the negotiating panels as well as their principals should be commended by the Filipino people for the successful conclusion of the Kuala Lumpur round of peace talks.
He also said that President Aquino would be fulfilling his familys legacy and advancing the national interest once an agreement is reached. He noted that Senator Ninoy Aquino reached out to the 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.
Cotabato Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo urged members of the GPH and MILF peace panels to forge ahead and map out a more permanent peace agreement with determination, patience, goodwill, sincerity and transparency.
As a Cotabateño and a religious leader, I pray for you and your efforts to establish a just and lasting peace in our region, Quevedo said in a personal letter addressed to the peace panel members. The ten consensus points that you had previously reached were, indeed, a new landmark in the long and tortuous road to peace. They facilitated your journey.
Now you are on the verge of breaking through towards a mother agreement. I urgently encourage you for the sake of the Bangsamoro and for all the other people of Mindanao to forge ahead with determination, patience, goodwill, sincerity and transparency, the Cotabato archbishop further said.
Perfector Alibin, president of the University of Southeastern Philippines in Davao City, said other sectors of society, such as the academe, should be given a role in the peace process.
I believe that there should be ultimate peace in Mindanao. But what we are asking is that there should be real process for all sectors, said Alibin. That is why even in the academe we want to discuss that peace is a long term process. It does not come only now. There should be convergence of factors.
On the part of the academe, we should include peace in our curriculum, Alibin said.
Dr. Roni P. Mines, college dean of the Assumption School of Davao, said his school has always been supportive of the Mindanao peace process.
The Assumption School of Davao has always been very supportive of this undertaking and has held fora and discussions in school to keep ourselves updated on developments on the peace process, Mines said.
As such, I am definitely looking forward to the signing of a genuine peace agreement between GRP and MILF soonest to finally resolve the centuries' old conflict in Mindanao, he added. I believe that it is a critical first step in rebuilding Mindanao.
Mines said he supported President Aquinos efforts in forging a lasting settlement with the MILF. We will be praying that he will persevere in this endeavor to bring this dream of a peaceful Mindanao to full fruition.
A high school student leader, Reina Mari Q. Doria, of the Norte Dame of Marbel University in Koronadal City, challenged all Filipinos, not only the people of Mindanao, to support President Aquinos efforts to achieve a peace agreement with the MILF and other rebel groups in the country.
The peace agreement between the government and the MILF is about to be forged and I receive this news with joy. It is us the youth who will experience the fruits of the peace process as we pursue our dreams to rebuild Mindanao, Doria said.
This is now the time for all Filipinos, not only the Mindanaons, to support the President's efforts for lasting peace settlement with the MILF and other armed groups in Mindanao. Just like my parents and many others, I am one with them in this endeavor, Doria further said.
Earlier, President Benigno Aquino III announced the forging of the framework agreement that paves the way for a final, enduring peace in Mindanao.
The President added that the framework agreement will be posted on the Official Gazette, which is the official online journal of Malacañang, and presented to the public through massive consultations before any signing could take place. (PNA)