Goldberg reiterates US support to Mindanao peace process

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/14 November)– United States (US) Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg reiterated his government’s full support to the continuing peace process and the creation of the proposed Bangsamoro region in Mindanao.

Goldberg, who visited the city on Thursday, said they are upbeat with the prospects of the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, especially with the recent strides that came with the signing of the final peace agreement in March.

“From an international perspective and from a US perspective, we’re hopeful that the peace agreement will lead to better things, (especially) to the lives of the people (of Mindanao),” he said in an interview over TV Patrol Socsksargen.

He said they expect that it would also bring more opportunities and chances to develop the “great resources of Mindanao, including agriculture and mining.”

Goldberg expressed support to the establishment of a new Bangsamoro region, which is the centerpiece of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The BBL will specifically give way to the establishment of a new autonomous political entity, the Bangsamoro government, to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee has been conducting public consultations in parts of Mindanao for the BBL, which it targets to pass before the end of the year.

In terms of peace and order, Goldberg assured that the US will continue to provide support to the government in terms of resolving the lingering security problems in parts of the island, especially the threats posed by the Abu Sayyaf Group.

“We support the government’s efforts to try to end these threats — the kidnappings, the violence,” he said.

During his brief swing here, Goldberg met with City Mayor Ronnel Rivera and leaders of the city’s business sector.

He also met with South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, who chairs the Regional Peace and Order Council of Region 12.

The US Ambassador visited the city’s fishport complex in Barangay Tambler and briefly observed its operations.

“It was interesting to see the ships offloading and to see the actual cutting of tuna,” he said.

Goldberg added the tuna industry is a huge and probably the most important industry in GenSan.

The US is one of the top export destinations of the country’s fresh, chilled and canned tuna, which are mainly produced in this city.

Dubbed the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines,” the city hosts six of the country’s seven tuna canneries and ancillary industries that generate around US$ 350 million in export receipts annually. (MindaNews)