Talks only way to peace

December 6, 2011

Mario B. Casayuran
Manila Bulletin
December 5, 2011

MANILA, Philippines — A political ally of the Aquino administration said Monday the resumption of the formal peace talks between the Philippine government and the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is the only way forward to attain peace in troubled Mindanao.

Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said this while the two panels are scheduled to meet Monday in Kuala Lumpur.

As a peace advocate and chairman of the Senate social justice and rural development committee, Pangilinan said the peace talks are a sign that both groups are now willing to move forward after the deadly series of clashes that occurred between government forces and the separatist group starting October this year.

“Nobody wins when Filipinos kill fellow Filipinos, and the whole country continues to grieve for all the losses incurred by both sides. While nothing will be able to take back the lives of these slain men, we can ensure that their deaths will not be in vain by continuing to push for genuine peace. That is the only way forward,’’ he said.

The former Senate Majority Leader also reiterated an earlier call for the peace process negotiations to take into account the “gaps” and “loopholes” in the process, and to “manage [its] outcomes.”

“Four decades of war has cost us at least a hundred billion pesos, and the atrocities made to our people have been unspeakable. We need to end this war within this generation for our country to finally take off, but the framework has to be clear and the loopholes must be addressed for the peace process to move forward,” Pangilinan said.

“We urge both sides of the panel to be clear about the terms of the peace process and for them to abide by these terms. We also urge that those who will disregard these terms be held accountable under the full force of the law,’’ he said.

“We also hope that, from here on, peace will be our primary agenda in the South. History has taught us that a military solution in Mindanao has failed time and time again,” he added.

Pangilinan stressed that Filipinos should look at the Ramos administration’s aggressive peace initiatives in the 90s.
These initiatives, Pangilinan said, helped create the window of opportunity that laid down the foundation for economic progress in cities like General Santos, Cagayan de Oro, and Davao.

‘’In the Mindanao experience, war has brought only misery while aggressive peace initiatives have brought real, tangible progress and development in these areas,’’ he said.


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