7 out 10 Filipinos believe peace still attainable – survey

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SEVEN out of 10 Filipinos are still optimistic that the nation can achieve a just and lasting peace and believe that the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) can forge a peace agreement, a recent survey from pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) revealed.

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The results of the said survey, conducted from June 28 to 30, showed a decline from the previous surveys done—the March 2013 survey yielded 79 percent while that of June 2011 garnered 83 percent.

In a statement, GPH peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said that the drop “can be attributed to the time lag from the first Annex (on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities) signed in February 2013 to the second Annex (on Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing) that was eventually signed in July 2013.”

“In all, we are pleased to find that 7 of 10 Filipinos remain hopeful that a peace deal will be reached between the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. We also note that this hope is most enduring among our brothers and sisters in Mindanao who are most affected by the violence and its negative short- and long-term consequences. Equally important, based on the survey results, it appears that both Muslim and non-Muslim Filipinos share and nurture this hopefulness,” Coronel-Ferrer said.

According to the SWS survey results, 34 percent of respondents in Mindanao are “very hopeful” of a peace agreement between the government and the MILF, compared to 30 percent in the Visayas, 27 percent in Metro Manila, and 24 percent in Balance Luzon.

Public expectation of a peace agreement between the government and the MILF is also strongest in Mindanao, with 23 percent expecting it to happen this year, compared to 9 percent in Balance Luzon, 4 percent in Metro Manila, and 3 percent in the Visayas.

“The challenge for the GPH and the MILF panels of course remains, and that is, to close the gap between the hope and the actual expectation that we will have a comprehensive agreement under this President,” Coronel-Ferrer stated.

Candle-lighting ceremonies

The optimism and call for peace particularly in light of the Zamboanga standoff last month was manifested by the public in the various vigils and candle-lighting ceremonies done all over the country.

“A Nation Praying for Peace,” a vigil that brought together civil society organizations [CSOs], celebrities, artists, government representative, and biking enthusiasts was held on September 21 at the Quezon City Memorial Circle.

On that same day, Bacolod’s local government also had its own multi-sectoral candle-lighting ceremony led by Governor Alfredo Marañon, Jr. at their Provincial Capitol Park.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also spearheaded a candle-lighting ceremony held at the AFP Grandstand, Camp Aguinaldo on September 28. In attendance were representatives of the Philippine National Police, CSOs, and students who all offered candles and prayers for peace.

The 802ND Infantry Brigade of the AFP also headed a province-wide candle-lighting ceremony dubbed “Candles for Peace,” in Leyte on September 30. In cooperation with the local government, cities, and municipalities, candles were simultaneously lit at exactly 5 p.m. to symbolize Leyte’s call for peace in the country. PNA

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