Business groups back Noy government
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - February 26, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Seven business groups reaffirmed their support yesterday for the Aquino administration and the Bangsamoro peace process in the wake of the Mamasapano incident.

In an open letter titled “A time for sobriety, courage and unity” issued on the occasion of the 29th anniversary of the people power revolt, the groups expressed sympathy with those who died in the clashes in Maguindanao a month ago – elite police forces, Muslim rebels as well as civilians.

The letter was signed by the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, Mindanao Business Council and Philippine Business for Social Progress.

“We express our utmost respect and sympathies for the families of the gallant policemen of the PNP Special Action Force, as we extend our sympathies to the families of our brother Muslim Filipinos and the innocent civilians who perished as a result of the tragic encounter,” the groups said as they sought truth and accountability over the incident.

The groups, however, rejected calls for all-out war in Mindanao by “certain sectors and political players” who have branded Muslim Filipinos as terrorists and demanded President Aquino’s resignation.

“We do not and will not support such calls,” the businessmen said. “We call instead for sobriety, courage and unity.”

The groups credited the Aquino government with restoring integrity and good governance, thus earning the respect of

not only the business community but international investors as well.

They said the country’s conduct of international diplomacy and insistence on settling disputes through the rule of law have gained it the admiration and respect of the community of nations.

“From being Asia’s perpetual laggard in the last decade, we are now among the region’s fastest growing countries and our rapidly expanding economy is now the envy of our neighbors,” the business groups said.

They, however, warned of political manipulators who want to take advantage of the highly emotional situation and waste the gains made in the past years.

“Rather than foster division among ourselves, we must channel our energies and efforts towards unity, reconciliation and a genuine search for the truth, fully insulated from selfish political agendas,” the groups said.

They said only total and lasting peace will address the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people, and appealed to government and all parties involved to put the peace process back on track at the soonest time possible.

“Facts surrounding Mamasapano must still be satisfactorily established and justice must be dispensed where it is due,” they added.

The business groups appealed to all parties conducting inquiries to finish the investigation and let President Aquino, as commander in chief, give a full accounting to the Filipino people.

“Let the chips fall where they may, but too much is at stake for silence to be invoked for the protection of old friends and allies,” they said, noting how history provides an opportunity to preserve the gains leading toward inclusive development and political maturity.

“Only with a full and satisfactory accounting will justice be possible, and only after justice has been satisfied can the peace process get back on track based on the trust and confidence that is needed of both parties,” they said, or else 56 months of reform might be for naught.

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