Robin Padilla to Mamasapano villagers: Be resilient

John Unson - The Philippine Star

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — Actor Robin Padilla on Saturday urged residents of Mamasapano, Maguindanao to remain resilient in the wake of challenges confronting the Mindanao peace process.

Padilla told villagers he is confident that the deadly January 25 encounter in the municipality between policemen and secessionist rebels will not affect the on-going peace initiatives of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Padilla and Mariel Rodriguez, whom he married according to Islamic rite, were guests to the "Yakapayapaan" fellowship mission here Saturday morning by officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The event was meant to foster camaraderie between them and thousands of residents dislocated by the incident.

Padilla and Rodriguez, who wore a traditional hijab (head cover) for women, were accompanied here by ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman and spouse, Anak Mindanao Partylist Rep. Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman.

The Hatamans are staunch supporters of Malacañang's peace agreement with the MILF.

The ARMM's Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team, which is under the ministerial control of Hataman, and the provincial government of Maguindanao have jointly been providing relief and rehabilitation services to evacuees for more than two weeks now.

Padilla, who embraced Islam while jailed for illegal possession of firearm almost two decades ago, told residents of Mamasapano's adjoining Barangays Tukanalipao, Pidsandawan and Inog-og to support peaceful means of resolving the January 25 firefights between members of the police’s Special Action Force and MILF guerillas.

At least 44 SAF operatives and 18 MILF members were killed in the ensuing encounters, which also left five innocent villagers dead.

"We must adhere to the Islamic teachings on patience and the importance of resolving conflicts amicably as espoused by Prophet Mohammad," Padilla told villagers gathered at a public market in the center of Barangay Tukanalipao.

Padilla also urged local folks to continue supporting the now 18-year peace overture between the government and the MILF shaken by the police-rebel firefights three weeks ago.

Padilla said he is grateful to Hataman and her lawmaker-spouse for arranging his visit here to convince evacuees to help in the diplomatic resolution of the January 25 police-MILF hostilities in Barangays Tukanalipao, Pidsandawan and Inog-og.

Maguindanao's two congressional representatives, Sandra Sema and Zajid Mangudadatu, also toured Barangay Tukanalipao and talked to local residents before Padilla arrived for his "peace sortie" in support of the ARMM government's Yakapayapaan humanitarian activity.

Padilla also provided with cash assistance the families of the villagers killed in the January 25 incident.

Hataman had earlier donated P10,000 cash to each of the five Muslim families that lost members in the crossfire.

His wife, meanwhile, urged villagers here to continue trusting the Mindanao peace process and to remain optimistic on the enactment into law of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The BBL, once passed into law and ratified via a plebiscite in the proposed Bangsamoro core territory, will establish a new political entity that would replace the ARMM as agreed by the government and the MILF.

While ARMM officials were busy with their Yakapayapaan activity here, dozens of police, military and civilian bikers also pedaled they way through the provincial capital, Buluan town in southeast of Maguindanao, via the Cotabato-Tacurong Highway.

The biking event, dubbed "Bike for Bangsamoro Love," was jointly organized by the commander of the Army's 6th Infantry, Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Pangilinan and Mangudadatu embarked on the activity to show to the public that the police, the military and the MILF remained solidly cohesive in maintaining law and order in the 36 towns of Maguindanao.

Pangilinan said he is thankful to the governor and the 36 mayors of Maguindanao for helping them push the biking event forward.











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