Aquino hopes to sign comprehensive peace deal next month-A A +A
Monday, February 11, 2013
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III expressed hope that comprehensive peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will be completed next month.
In an ambush interview during the formal launching of the Sajahatra Bangsamoro in Sultan Kudarat Monday, the President said the people behind the peace process are "very close" to agree on the four crucial annexes in the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, which was inked in October last year.
The annexes, which are being crafted, cover power sharing, wealth sharing, normalization and transition roadmap. Should these issues be resolved there will be another round of signing between the government and the MILF.
"I think we're very, very close, to agreements on all the points," Aquino said.
"This is a consensual process. We are trying to achieve consensus and it will take its natural course but we think it might be earlier than the end of March," he added.
The Chief Executive likewise expressed optimism that the government would achieve final peace agreement with the MILF before his term ends in 2016.
While the final peace agreement with the Muslim secessionists is being ironed out, Aquino led the launching of a social development program that aims to provide education, health care and improve the livelihood of Muslim communities.
The historic event, which was held at the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute compound in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao, was attended by representatives of the MILF led by its chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.
In an interview with Murad, he said that the visit of the President to the rebels' lair is a "grand gesture of peace."
The MILF chair is confident that other insurgent groups would also recognize the sincerity of the government in achieving lasting peace in Mindanao.
In his speech, the President said that Sajahatra Bangsamoro will only be the start of the government initiatives in uplifting the lives of the rebels who decided to go back to the folds.
Among the services offered during the event were the distribution of health insurance by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth); upgrading of community-based health services by the Department of Health (DOH); college scholarships and technical-vocational training by the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), respectively; educational assistance to madaris (Islamic schools) and private schools by the Department of Education, needs assessment of selected Bangsamoro communities; and Cash for Work Program, through the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Among those who accompanied the President during the historic event were Peace Process Adviser Teresita Ging Deles, Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya, DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Health Secretary Enrique Ona and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, among others. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)