Aquino to ARMM: Peace is at hand

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DAVAO CITY: President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Wednesday asked the people of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to support the yet-to-be created Bangsamoro political entity, emphasizing that a lasting peace is at hand in the region.

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In his speech during the 22nd ARMM Summit on Governance and Development, the President admitted that the only hurdle in Mindanao’s quest for long enduring peace are the doubts and fears of the people to commit the same mistakes that happened in the past.

This is the reason, he said, why he urged the local leaders to set aside fear of unknown and keep an open mind about the government’s peace pact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

He asked them to give the Bangsamoro Basic Law a chance for the higher cause of peace and genuine development of the people in Mindanao.

“Makakaasa po kayong sa bawat kasunduang ating nilagdaan ay nakataya ang aming dangal at pangalan [You can be sure that every agreement signed has our honor and name at stake],” Aquino said, as he promised an even better future once the Bangsamoro Basic law was passed and enacted.

“Titiyakin po nating hindi na tayo babalik pa sa dilim ng nakaraan. Totoong maliwanag na kinabukasan po ang inyong matatanglawan [We will ensure taht we will never go back to dark past— you can expect a bright future ahead of us],” he added.

The President said that Mindanao starts to move to a new era of better governance towards an improved society.

For instance, he underscored ed the decreasing incidents of violence in the region as well as the successful delivery of basic services to the people.

According to Aquino, the investments in ARMM reached P14.6 billion in 2013, which is 157 percent more than the P569 million in 2012.

“Nanabik na po tayo sa araw na maipasa na ang Bangsamoro Basic law, upang tuluyan na ngang mabuksan ang bagong kabanata ng kasaysayan sa Muslim Mindanao [We are eager for the day that the Bangsamoro Basic Law is passed, so we can truly start a new chapter in the history of Muslim Mindanao],” he added

President Aquino likewise commended ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman and called him “ghost-buster” for carrying out reforms in the region.

As he steps down from power more than two years from now, the President said that the people will choose new leaders who will guide them in the right direction.

He added that while he returns to private life, he will be willing to support the development of the region.

For his part, Hataman thanked President Aquino for his trust and confidence.

He said that the ARMM government has offered its full support to the Bangsamoro peace agreement and in preparing a successful transition of power.

“As we promised, we are more than willing to sacrifice while we prepare the bureaucracy for smooth transition of power towards the new political setup,” Hataman said

“My administration gladly submits to the provisions agreed upon by both parties for we believe it is for the greater good,” he added

The Bangsamoro Basic law will be submitted to Congress once the Comprehensive Agreement is signed by the government and the MILF not later than March this year.

The law, which is being drafted by a 15-man Transition Commission, will pave the way for the establishment if the Bangsamoro region in 2016

The Bangsamoro is envisioned to have for its core territory the entire ARMM, as well as six municipalities in Lanao del Norte, namely Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan, and Tangkal; all other barangays in the municipalities of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit, and Midsayap that also voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite; and the cities of Cotabato and Isabela.

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