Mar vows to push peace in Mindanao if elected

John Unson - Philstar.com

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - Administration presidential bet Manuel “Mar” Roxas II on Wednesday promised to push Malacañang’s peace overture with Moro sectors forward if elected president.

Roxas on Wednesday toured Cotabato City, where he held separate dialogues with local members of the Liberal Party (LP) and their supporters and with senior officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“I will nurture the gains and dividends of the peace process gained by the Aquino administration,” Roxas told reporters at the sideline of his separate dialogues with local communities.

Roxas repeatedly lauded ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman for his continuing support to the peace process and for the regional government’s extensive and transparent implementation of infrastructure projects in the five provinces of the autonomous region.

The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, known LP bailiwicks.

The reelectionist Hataman is the LP regional figurehead for the autonomous region.

Roxas was accompanied by Hataman and spouses Maguindanao Rep. Sandra Sema and former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema in his engagements here with local sectors.

Mr. Sema is chairman of the largest of three groups in the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

He is aspiring for the mayoral post of Cotabato City, along with running mate, vice mayoral candidate Mohammad Pasigan, a businessman, under the banner of the administration party.

Rep. Sema, now in her second term, is seeking reelection also as LP’s official candidate.

Rep. Sema is also as popular in all of the 37 barangays in Cotabato City and in the 11 towns in the first district of Maguindanao for her infrastructure projects funded with congressional grants.

The Sema couple is also known for being supportive of President Benigno Aquino III’s diplomatic overtures with Moro sectors, meant to foster peace and achievable development in the country’s troubled south.

Unlike the MNLF faction under Nur Misuari, the former mayor Sema and his followers are not hostile to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The MNLF-Sema group is not opposed either to the passage of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which is still pending in Congress.

The proposed BBL is the enabling measure for the replacement of ARMM with an MILF-led, more empowered Bangsamoro self-governing entity, based on the group’s peace compact with Malacañang, the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

Wednesday’s tour of Roxas in Cotabato City was preceded by his sorties on Tuesday in Marawi City, the capital of Lanao del Sur, and in Buluan town, the capital of Maguindanao, where mayors and barangay officials, clad in yellow clothes, gave him a rousing welcome.

Hataman said he is grateful to the Sema couple and their supporters for the warm and cordial reception they extended to Roxas while in Cotabato City.












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