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10/04/2014: FILAMS SHARE HIGH HOPES FOR PEACE IN MINDANAO

PRESS RELEASE
WDC-023-2014

10 April 2014

WASHINGTON, DC—Prospects are looking bright for Mindanao, two weeks into the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The same spirit of optimism for Mindanao was shared by members of the Filipino Community who listened to Secretary Edwin Lacierda, former Sen. Santanina Rasul and civil society leader Amina Rasul-Bernardo discuss prospects for real peace in the Southern Philippines during the Talakayan sa Pasuguan.

The forum, Mindanao: Prospects for Real Peac,e is the second Talakayan for the year and the 8th installment in the series. It was held at the Romulo Hall of the Embassy on 8 April and was co-hosted by the Philippine Embassy and the US-Philippines Society.

“The Aquino Administration worked hard on making the agreement happen,” said Secretary Lacierda as he underscored the government’s serious desire and commitment to finally bring peace to Mindanao.

According to Secretary Lacierda, the signing of the agreement in Malacañang on 27 March created a joyous atmosphere.

“On the day the agreement was signed, there was a sense of jubilation even among people in Manila. Muslim women who were in Malacañang for the signing were in tears,” Secretary Lacierda said. “They did not think they would see this happen in their lifetimes. They said, ‘finally, no more running. Finally, peace.’”

Former Senator Rasul provided a historical perspective to the Mindanao conflict. According to her, certain past government policies even added to the escalation of conflict and distrust in some parts of Mindanao.

She, however, welcomed the signing of the agreement, noting that the peace agreement with the MILF came after years of negotiations.

For her part, Rasul-Bernardo said the feeling of relief is shared by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. “In Mindanao, most people felt that it was about time,” she added.

“Majority of people in Mindanao, even those who are not Muslims, feel good about this development. There are a few spoilers, but most people in the region agree that it was about time,” said Rasul-Bernardo.

Members of the Filipino community in Washington, D.C. shared the same positive feelings and optimism toward the agreement.

“We are hopeful that the peace process bears fruit. After so many false starts, this current initiative has the most promise. Both sides want a negotiated settlement. Talk Talk always beats War War,” said Sonny Busa, President of the Philippine American Foundation for Charities.

Mitzi Pickard, President of the Philippine Arts and Letters Media Council, said the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was indeed an historic milestone for President Aquino and the Philippine government.

“There is a sense of optimism that peace will prevail in the troubled region of Mindanao—as long as there are proper measures of accountability and transparency during the implementation of the agreement,” she said.

“Hopefully, this Agreement will be the road to peace and progress for Mindanao. Once we attain stability in this region, the Philippines will even become more robust and prosperous,” she added.

For the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC), the signing of the agreement is a breath of hope.

“MHC commends the signing of the peace agreement between the Philippine govt. and the MILF. Once more, this ushers a new breath of hope in Mindanao where the parties will have to seriously revisit and address the root causes of the armed conflict and find a comprehensive settlement of the seemingly endless Mindanao problem,” said Grace Valera, Co-Executive Director of the MHC.

She said that although there is much to be done before lasting, sustainable peace is achieved, there is a consensus, in the Philippines as well as among Filipinos living in the United States, that the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is a step in the right direction. ###

PHOTO RELEASE
WDC-050-2014
10 April 2014

Government's perspective. Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Edwin Lacierda shares the government's perspective on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on 27 March 2014. He narrates what women present at the signing said, "Finally, no more running. Finally, peace." (Embassy Photo by Majalya Fernando)

PHOTO RELEASE
WDC-051-2014
10 April 2014

Historical perspective. Former Senator Santanina Rasul shares a historical background of Muslims in the Philippines. Rasul welcomed the signing of the agreement, noting that the peace agreement with the MILF came after years of negotiations. (Embassy Photo by Majalya Fernando)

PHOTO RELEASE
WDC-052-2014
10 April 2014

Sense of relief. Peace and human rights activist Amina Rasul shares that there was a feeling of relief is shared by Muslims and non-Muslims alike after the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed. “In Mindanao, most people felt that it was about timem" she said. (Embassy Photo by Majalya Fernando)