DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 April) — President Benigno Aquino says he will continue to pray for peace this Holy Week as he is “very, very optimistic” about the peace processes with the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“I can’t get into details kasi merong kokontra talaga na ayaw ng peace” (because there are really those who are against peace) but he said he sent his “pinaka-manhid, pinaka-cynical, pinaka-jaded” emissaries to find out the prospects for peace based on the proposals forwarded to him and the developments on the ground and they came back “very optimistic,” Aquino told reporters early Thursday afternoon after condoling with the family of industrialist and family friend Jesus V. Ayala, who passed away Tuesday night.
Asked what his prayers are for Mindanao and the country in his first Holy Week as President, Aquino said, “first, sa peace aspects, sa peace negotiations natin “ with both the NDF and the MILF.
He said the development are “too good to be true” so he sent his most cynical and most jaded emissaries to probe into the developments, the details of which he said he could not provide at this point.
He said his emissaries came back “very optimistic.”
“That’s what we’ll work on to ensure it happens sooner rather than later and guidedly, in a year and a half, we might be able to conclude all of these,” he said in mixed Pilipino and Englisn.
He said there was one day this week when he woke up imagining “how is it like na wala tayong ganyang kaguluhan, maiiwan mo na lang dyan yung bandidto talaga” and the assets devoted for counter-insurgency are instead devoted to infrastructure, etc..
The government and NDF peace panels in their February 21, 2011 Joint Statement signed in Oslo, Norway agreed on a timeframe to complete and sign the comprehensive agreements on the remaining items of the agenda between then and June 2010: the draft Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) by September 2011; the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms (CAPCR) by February 12 and the Comprehensive Agreement on End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces (CAEHDF) by June 2012.
In his opening statement at the informal exploratory talks in Kuala Lumpur with the government peace panel on January 13 – the first time the panel chairs met – MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal said, “six months up to one year timeline is enough to complete the process. But if the exercise is just to manage the conflict in Mindanao, as most if not all previous administrations did, the six-year term of office of President Benigno Aquino II will not be enough. There will always be reasons to obstruct the negotiations, as there are people who prefer the war option to solve the problem in Mindanao,” he said.
Dean Marvic Leonen of the University of the Philippines College of Law and chair of the government peace panel, told local officials in Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces during consultations last week that President Aquino wants a peace settlement with the MILF “within one year” so implementation can already start within his term.
Leonen said President Aquino has committed “not to pass this problem again to the next administration,” and that “it is not within the worldview of this administration to say ‘i-dribble natin ito’ and pass on to the next president. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)