At the auditorium of the provincial capitol here, Santos-Recto, who met a delegation of 60 people, mostly youth from all over Mindanao last Monday, said: "It is high time that the peace problem in Mindanao be given attention."
This was Santos-Recto's response after the Caravan explained to the governor that one of their objectives in organizing the Caravan from March 13-18 was to "nationalize the peace agenda of Mindanao."
Atty. Mary Ann Arnado, the secretary-general of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus that led the Caravan, told the governor that they had been "reaching out to local government officials, religious leaders and the youths in the Visayas and Luzon in an effort to draw national support and attention to the Mindanawons clamor for peace."
Arnado, who also led the Caravan that passed through the cities of Cebu, Bacolod and Iloilo, among others, told the governor that aside from soliciting support for their advocacy, they were also calling for the "unity of all Moro political fronts in Mindanao."
Santos-Recto said: "For now, all I could say is I support your cause for peace. Napapanahon ito (This is timely). It is about time that a genuine peace should reign in Mindanao and a peace agreement has to be finally signed."
But the governor added that her expression of support was "empty unless we identify concrete actions that we could possibly do—those that are needed from us."
The Caravan handed the governor an electronic copy of what the Caravan is all about, but Santos-Recto was not contented with it as she ordered Jing Segismundo, the public information officer of Batangas Province, to "relate with and discuss with the representatives of this Mindanao group on what are the things that we could possibly do to help them because these are the victims of war."
Santos-Recto invited the Caravan to her office to initially discuss immediate steps that they could do in support to the Caravan, but since the Mindanaoans were also catching up with a schedule in Manila, they just committed to send back a representative to meet with the governor in the future.
"Look at all the documents and come out with a concrete plan," Santos-Recto
stressed her order to Segismundo before the Caravan left for Manila at around 10:00 in the morning on March 17. (Mindanao Peoples Caucus)