Monday, October 8, 2012

Mindanao Businessmen Welcome Peace

Leaders of the business community and civil society in Mindanao on Sunday expressed their support behind the forging of a draft framework peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), predicting that peace would inevitably impact not only on the business climate but also the quality of life of all the people in Mindanao.

Bronx Hebrona, regional governor for Southwestern Mindanao of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), said Mindanao traders were optimistic that the forging of a GPH-MILF framework agreement in Malaysia would eventually lead to a permanent peace agreement.

"It is very heartening that prospects for a final peace agreement are getting brighter. An agreement finally looks closer at hand. I am very confident that the MILF and the GPH will earnestly and sincerely rise above the current realities and challenges to finally attain lasting peace in Mindanao," Hebrona said.

"The peace dividend that will ensue will undoubtedly positively impact not only the business climate but eventually the quality of life of all Mindanaons," Hebrona said.

"We, in the business sector in Mindanao, trust that our brothers in the MILF and the administration of PNoy will pursue peace relentlessly until a final agreement is signed."

PCCI vice president for Mindanao Ricardo Juliano echoed Hebrona's observation, saying that a successful peace agreement would benefit "not only Mindanao but the entire country as well."

"We are fully supporting the peace process," Juliano said. "We have high hopes for this administration."

Mindanao civil society leaders, on the other hand, commended those responsible for ushering a "favorable" atmosphere that led to the forging of a framework agreement.

"The signing of a GPH-MILF peace accord is an act of humility and should usher in graciousness and agreements among people on the ground," said EJ Matela, executive director of the Mindanao Land Foundation, Inc. (MinLand), a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Kidapawan City.

"Thoughts of real peace, justice and prosperity thus become more real and attainable," Matela added. "Our prayers and thanks to our leaders and all the people who are working hard to make this magnanimous act possible." Matela is a Minland Foundation past director for post conflict and rural services.

Aveen Acuna-Gulo, an official of the Cotabato-based Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) that is handling an European Union-funded project for Indigenous Peoples in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said the time was ripe for the signing of a peace agreement between the government and the MILF.

"I see that there has been no environment such as this current one that favors a signing; everything is positive," said Acuna-Gulo.

"To keep my support attuned to my current work, let me say that 'I am confident that the issues affecting the Indigenous Peoples in the ARMM are very much in the radar screens of both panels, and there has to be a first step -- which is the signing of a peace agreement," Acuna-Gulo said. "The work of empowering the Indigenous Peoples in the ARMM continues."

Earlier, President Benigno Aquino III announced the forging of the framework agreement that "paves the way for a final, enduring peace in Mindanao."

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