The President flew to Tagum City, Davao del Norte Friday afternoon (Feb. 8) to speak at the closing ceremony of the two-day Region XI LPSA.
“Coupled with our increased budget for Mindanao is our new paradigm for peace in the island,” the President said as she mourned the ambush killing of eight soldiers by members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in neighboring Davao Oriental recently. Eight soldiers were also wounded in the said ambush.
In her speech before some 400 multisectoral participants in the Regional LPSA, the President explained her administration’s peace formula for Mindanao, as in other parts of the country: “At a time when hard power has not proven its value in the world, our model for dealing with the flashpoint area of Mindanao has focused on a unique combination of soft and hard power to promote peace.”
Region XI is composed of the provinces of Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, and Compostela Valley.
“We have been able to meld together confidence-building measures grounded on strong interfaith dialogue and cultural awareness; investments in economic and basic infrastructure development; and mutual security arrangements to keep the peace in Mindanao,” the President said.
“The terrorists stand in the way of bringing peace, stability and order to Southern Philippines. We have decided we must wipe them out once and for all. They are a menace to peace,” she stressed
The President commended the police and the armed forces for their heroic efforts, adding that “we regret and mourn with the families of those soldiers who have been caught in the line of fire.”
She reiterated her observation that “the Communist rebels have spent years as a low-level threat” and that, therefore, “it is time for their disruption of human rights to be put to rest so that the nation can move ahead.”
“They impede the progress and development of a number of rural areas and they are responsible for a wide range of human rights abuses. If we are to become a First World country, we have to put a stop to their ideological nonsense and their criminal acts once and for all. I have specified a timeline – 2010 – to end armed rebellion,” the President said.
Because of the urgency in wiping out terrorism, the President let it be known that “I extended the term of AFP Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon for three months because I want him to continue the AFP’s current initiatives in fighting terrorism.”
As for Mindanao, the President said her administration has so far “achieved a great deal – the island is vastly improved in terms of safety, security and economic growth.”
“Our paradigm for peace in the island is really making things better; it will really take off if we achieve lasting peace and the millions of foreign aid promised comes pouring in…”
Earlier on Friday, the President flew to Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental where she inspected the Diosdado Macapagal Bridge and spearheaded the groundbreaking of the P824.45-million Gingoog-Claveria-Villanueva Road improvement and concreting project.
She then proceeded to Kapalong, Davao del Norte for the launching of the construction of the P1.5-billion Kapalong-Talaingod-Valencia City-Bukidnon Road, a major component of the government’s “surge in infrastructure” spending program this year. (Philippine Information Agency)