Mindanao community leaders unite to support Mar

John Unson (Philstar.com) - December 12, 2015 - 2:17am

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - Leaders of various civil society organizations (CSOs) in Southern Philippines are convinced the Mindanao peace process will continue effectively under a Manuel “Mar” Roxas II presidency.

This consensus was reached by key Mindanao community leaders during a brainstorming session in Davao City on Saturday.

The CSO leaders discussed extensively during the meeting how they can help push the candidacy of administration bets Roxas and his running mate, vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo forward.

Among the participants to the meeting were CSO leaders from across Central Mindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), a known stronghold of the administration’s Liberal Party (LP).

Almost all of the more than 100 mayors in the ARMM provinces, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, are LP members.

ARMM’s chief executive, Regional Gov. Mujiv Hataman, is seeking reelection as sole LP candidate for the region’s gubernatorial post.

Hataman, a known political protégé of President Benigno Aquino III, is a staunch supporter of Roxas and Robredo.

Speakers in Saturday’s first ever Convenors’ Group Meeting among prospective LP campaigners from various CSOs in ARMM and in nearby Administrative Regions 10, 11 and 12, took turns expressing confidence that Roxas, if elected president, will nurture the gains of Aquino’s peace overtures with southern Moro groups.

They also talked about how the LP party will fare in the May 2016 synchronized national, local and ARMM elections based on the good governance practices of local executives who belong to the administration bloc.

Also present in the meeting were Maguindanaon lawyer Kirby Abdullah, Hataman’s assistant secretary for special concerns in Maguindanao, and the chief of the ARMM’s office for political concerns, Dats Sangkula, who hails from Tawi-Tawi.

Peace activist Nung Ajihil, a newspaper columnist in Zamboanga City, said the good governance practices of the present ARMM administration will boost the winning chances of Roxas and Robredo in the autonomous region.

“People in the ARMM have been witnessing remarkable achievements of the Hataman administration in its reform initiatives meant to professionalize the regional government. Infrastructure projects are being implemented religiously everywhere in the autonomous region now,” Ajihil said.

Sangkula said one of the primary concerns of the Hataman administration now is the continuation of the Mindanao peace process after the tenure of Aquino.

Hataman said while he is optimistic the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) could still get through the legislative mills of the House of Representatives and the Senate during the term of Aquino, the government’s responsibility to sustain the peace process should be a priority of the next administration.

The draft BBL, still pending in Congress, is the enabling measure for ARMM’s replacement with a more politically and administratively empowered Bangsamoro government, based on Malacañang’s peace compact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front - the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

Sangkula and Hataman both said traditional, religious and political leaders in the autonomous region see in Roxas the dedication to continue the peace process if elected president.

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