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Dec 09th
Home Community RP Government Updates PGMA Reaffirms Commitment to Mindanao Peace Efforts
PGMA Reaffirms Commitment to Mindanao Peace Efforts PDF Print E-mail
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Communities - RP Government Updates
Thursday, 08 January 2009 17:20

Dateline MANOLO FORTICH, Bukidnon  

P resident Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today reaffirmed her strong commitment to a lasting peace in Mindanao before her term ends in 2010.


Notwithstanding the long impasse in the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), she remains steadfast in her efforts to bring to a an end the decades-old conflict in the region, the President said.

"The peace process in Mindanao was dealt a deep setback, but I am fully committed to working to reach as much progress as possible in the time I am still have in office," the President said in a one-on-one interview with DXIF Bombo Radyo at Del Monte Lodge here.

The Chief Executive said her administration will pursue the peace process within the parameters set by the Constitution and by the Muslim and Christian communities who are directly impacted by the conflict.

However, she underscored the need to, first, bring back to the region, regain order and "be able to trust the MILF leaders and ensure that they truly represent their community."

"The peace process must proceed and it must do so in an atmosphere of stability and order in the region and regained trust that the MILF has control of renegade elements," the President said, stressing that "we also want to ensure that they truly represent their community before we can effectively reactivate the peace process again in earnest."

"We all want to see peace and prosperity in the Philippines and I am confident it will happen," she added.

To show her administration's seriousness in seeking a resumption of the stalled peace negotiations, the President said the newly-reconstituted government peace panel has already been directed to touch base with the facilitators and their counterparts in the MILF.

With the new paradigm on the peace efforts already in place, she said the government panel is ready to hold substantive discussions concerning the peace process, including ceasefire-related issues, the International Monitoring Team (IMT) and accelerated development efforts for Mindanao.

The peace process was disrupted after fighting broke out anew between government forces and Muslim rebels last Aug. 18.

The renewed fighting was initiated by three of the 19 MILF commanders after signing of the controversial Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Ancestral Domain between the government and the MILF was aborted.


* * * * *


Hundred China quake zone kids to rehabilitate in Philippines

MANILA (Xinhua) -- Invited by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a group of 100 children who survived a devastating earthquake in China last May will arrive in the Philippines this weekend for rehabilitation, with visits to the archipelagic state's stunning beaches, museums, schools and the Presidential Palace, officials said Wednesday.

The one-hundred middle school students were from Beichuan, Mianzhu, Shifang, the worst-hit towns in southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan, with many losing close relatives in the 8.0-magnitude earthquake on May 12, 2008, according to officials with the Chinese Embassy to the Philippines.

More than 80,000 people, including at least 19,000 school children, were killed in the killer quake, the worst natural disaster China experienced in three decades, the government statistics show.

According to the schedule, the quake zone kids, most of whom have never traveled abroad, will arrive at Manila on board a Philippine Airline charter flight on Jan. 11 and fly to the crystal water and white-sand beach in Bohol island after touring around the national capital. They will also call on President Arroyo in the Presidential Palace Malacanang a day before they return to China on Jan. 17.

The rehabilitation plan was formalized in August during Arroyo's visit to Sichuan quake zone and meeting with her Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao. Two groups of school children from the Sichuan quake zone took similar rehabilitation trips to Russia and Hungary last year.

In a report to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Ambassador to China Sonia Brady said the visit is designed for the Sichuan students to have a meaningful time and interaction with the Filipino people to help them recover from the effects of the earthquake.

Brady said the visit is a "very significant milestone" in promoting people-to-people exchanges between the Philippines and China.

Yuan Zhiju, a teacher with the Leigu middle school in Beichuan, told Xinhua reporters in Sichuan that kids were very excited about going abroad and had hand-knitted with needles and threads three ethnic hand-bags that traditions say would bring good fortune to President Arroyo.

"It is a gift from us to represent our gratitude to President Arroyo and the Filipino people," Yuan said.


* * * * *


Camiguin's elevation into a middle class province amazes President Arroyo

MAMBAJAO, Camiguin. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today expressed amazement at the resiliency and uncommon industry of Camiguinons who, within only two years, elevated this island into a middle-class province.

Gracing the 41st founding anniversary of the province this afternoon at the Camiguin Sports Center, the President congratulated the people of Camiguin for their feat and their readiness to face the possible negative impact of the global economic crisis, if ever it comes.

The President arrived 1 p.m. at the Camiguin Airport from Gingoog City where she visited thousands of flood victims taking shelter in the city.

Welcoming the President at the sports center were some 3,000 residents, students and local officials led by Camiguin Gov. Jurdin Jesus Romualdo, Camiguin Lone Dist. Rep. Pedro Romualdo, Vice Governor Leo Lasacar and Mambajao Mayor Ma. Luisa Romualdo.

Accompanying the President were Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, Davao del Norte 2nd Dist. Rep. Anton Lagdameo and Butuan City Rep. Joeboy Aquino.

In his welcome remarks, Governor Romualdo attributed the rapid development of Camiguin to various infrastructure projects of the President in the province.

Romualdo said these include the establishment of the roll-on roll-off (RO-RO) ferry system under the Central Nautical Highway, the completion of the circumferential road, potable water system, school buildings, tourism center and a hospital equipped with a modern x-ray machine.

As a result, tourist arrivals increased by 200 percent since 2007 and local patients no longer need to travel some three hours to Cagayan de Oro City to seek special medical intervention, said Governor Romualdo.

Governor Romualdo said the provision of agricultural implements, fertilizer subsidy and farm-to-market roads also helped farmers increase last year their productivity in rice by 11 percent, and in corn by two percent.

Speaking in Cebuano, the President said the national government was able to provide all these infrastructures and other projects to Camiguin and other needy provinces because of the various economic and tax reforms that were fully supported by the House of Representatives, including the congressmen present.

The President said these economic reforms also strengthened the country's fiscal position, making the Philippines one of the most resilient economies in 2008.

Stressing that the Philippines is also projected to do well this year, the President tasked Secretary Yap to assist Camiguinons in increasing the production of the sweet "lanzones" which the province is noted for.

"Secretary Yap will assist you to make sure this year that the harvest of lanzones will be as productive as the harvest of your palay," the President said.

The President added that the natural attractions in Camiguin -- such as Mt. Hibok-Hibok, the famous dive sites of Mantigue Island, hot and cold springs, natural soda water which she has tried, handicraft, efficient crime solution, and the warmth of its people -- would continue establishing the province as among the favorite tourist destinations in the country.


* * * * *


Gov't ready to resume talks with the MILF without preconditions

ILIGAN CITY---The Arroyo administration is ready to resume the stalled peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) "without preconditions."

Newly-appointed chair of the government panel Ambassador Rafael Seguis said the government has been preparing to "move forward" with the peace talks with the MILF in a move to re-enforce government commitment to peace through negotiations.


Seguis said the composition of the panel has been completed with Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman representing the Muslims, General Santos Mayor Adelbert Antonino representing the local
government and the Christian community, and sectoral representative Ronald Adamat from Maguindanao to represent the lumads.

"But it takes two to tango," Seguis stressed, adding that whatever are the five preconditions the MILF have before sitting on the negotiating table has to be taken up on the negotiating table and not released through the media.

"Let them come to us to talk. We will deal with them on the negotiating table and we shall find a way," Seguis said.

Seguis added that there are still some "kinks to iron out" such as the composition of the International Monitoring Team and the role of Malaysia in the talks as mediator or facilitator.

Seguis said the President wants the GRP panel's "strategy" to be submitted on Jan. 20.


* * * * *


Cabinet approves emergency employment, livelihood programs

The first Cabinet meeting of the year focused on emergency employment and livelihood programs in the regions to be managed by Cabinet officials.

This was revealed by Press Secretary Jesus G. Dureza in a phone interview with members of the Malacanang Press Corps (MPC).

"This is the first new year's full meeting with the President sa Iligan. Una sa pinag-usapan, hinimay ng Pangulo with the Cabinet yung part of the sustainability plan, yung emergency employment and livelihood programs, with Cabinet members assigned per region," said Dureza.

"Himinay-himay yung projects," he added.

As to the government's employment programs, Dureza said these were the programs presented by National Economic and Development and Authority (NEDA) Director-General Ralph Recto in an earlier Cabinet meeting.

"Ito yung na-approve na na na-present sa Cabinet meeting ni Recto. Part of that is yung emergency employment at livelihood programs to be implemented that are over and above agency projects," he said.

Dureza said the Cabinet members were to oversee projects in specific regions.

The employment-generating projects include the production of organic fertilizers, bantay-dagat and antay-gubat.

Also discussed by the Cabinet was the resumption of the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"Napag-usapan yung peace talks with the MILF. Nag-report si (government peace talks panel chair) Rafael Seguis sa Presidente as to where we are right now."

"There is now a directive that resumption of peace talks will proceed kaya the panel, according to Seguis, will meet to craft a strategic negotiating framework before the end of January," he said.

No specific date was mentioned on the resumption of the peace talks as the panel still has to be convened. Dureza said the government panel will "discuss the framework for negotiation for submission to the Cabinet and the President before the end of the month."


* * * * *


Gov`t to create one-million jobs in first six months of 2009

ILIGAN CITY--- The government is set to create at least one-million jobs in the first six months of 2009 and step up livelihood and emergency programs to lessen the impact of the global economic meltdown on the Filipinos, especially the poorest of the poor.

National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Chair Domingo Panganiban said the President issued the directive to all government agencies during the full Cabinet meeting held today at the President`s ancestral home in this city.

``The President has assigned all Cabinet members to handle emergency and livelihood programs over and above agency projects already in place,`` Panganiban said after the Cabinet meeting that lasted for
more than five hours.

The NAPC chief said that the out-of-school youth serving towards economic recovery (OYSTER) project, an emergency employment program for the out-of-work, out-of-school youths, is expected to generate 70,000 new jobs.

Jobs under the OYSTER project include hollow blocks making and road maintenance jobs.

In terms of new jobs to be created under the various livelihood projects, some 150,000 of them are expected to be available within the next six months, Panganiban said.

He said that by July, that one million new jobs will be created, aside from the government`s goal of the one-million new job opportunities.

As to the livelihood projects, the focal persons on the President`s super regions were instructed to step up the implementation of the program countrywide.

Funding for these projects will come from the savings of the different agencies concerned.

Panganiban said the President also directed the different agencies to exhaust their savings first before utilizing the P300 billion resiliency fund.

He also said that a special program for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who lost their jobs as a result of the economic meltdown, will be mapped out.

During the Cabinet meeting, the President also directed all government agencies to step up the food program, especially in the 10 poorest provinces of the country. # # #

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Last Updated on Thursday, 08 January 2009 17:42

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