Friday, March 14, 2014

Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur lauded for support to Bangsamoro

From the Philippine Star (Mar 14): Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur lauded for support to Bangsamoro

Muhaquer Iqbal, chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (right) receives from Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu the collated recommendations of the local communities  to the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front  to  address domestic socio-economic, political, and peace and security issues,  on Thursday’s provincial consultation in Buluan town on peace talks. JOHN UNSON

Residents and local executives in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur are the most active --- from among all Southern Moro communities --- in manifesting support to the creation of a Bangsamoro political entity, the chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said.

Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur are both component provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which also covers the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan.

Muhaquer Icbal, MILF chief negotiator and  chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC),  told local officials in Maguindanao Thursday, during a consultation in Buluan town in the province, that they appreciate the continuing support of the provincial government to their efforts to put a mutual closure, along with President Benigno Aquino III, to the decades-old Mindanao Moro issue.

He said while local government units and incumbent LGU executives in many areas in the proposed Bangsamoro core territory have extended cordial reception to members of the BTC during recent on-field dialogues, nothing can beat how Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur  residents demonstrated support to the now culminating GPH-MILF peace overture.

“There can be no other better option to the decades-old Moro problem but peace through negtiated settlement and people from these two provinces recognizes that obviously,” Iqbal told Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu during Thursday’s consultation on the creation of a Bangsamoro entity.

Iqbal said the BTC, which is composed of commissioners from the MILF and the government, is thankful to Mangudadatu for supporting the Mindanao peace process.

Thursday’s provincial consultation on the creation of a Bangsamoro entity, to replace ARMM via an enabling measure, the Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL), was the second in Maguindanao since February.

Local officials, led by Mangudadatu, urged the BTC, during Thursday’s consultation, to include in its socio-economic objectives Maguindanao’s eight-point development agenda  to empower local communities.

The BTC is now drafting the BBL, which is to be ratified via a plebiscite in the proposed Bangsamoro territory, which includes ARMM’s five provinces and two cities, and parcels of smaller Moro-dominated lands in surrounding administrative regions.

Mangudadatu told representatives of the MILF and the BTC  that the provincial eight-point development agenda reflects the real needs of impoverished Moro communities in the 36 towns in the province.

Mangudadatu said one of the most salient features of Maguindanao’s eight-point development agenda is to provide farmers with livelihood and free farm inputs, tools, machinery, palm oil and rubber tree seedlings, and provide education to their children through the provincial government’s scholarship program.

Mangudadatu’s Maguindanao Program for Educational Assistance and Community Empowerment (MagPEACE), which he started with only more than 700 scholars three years ago, now has more than 4,000 beneficiary-students, 80 percent of them children of active members of the MILF.

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