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Lasting peace in Mindanao among Loren’s top priorities

April 28, 2010

CAMPAIGNING TODAY IN ZAMBOANGA CITY, NP-NPC-LDP VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA RENEWED HER CALL FOR PEACE TALKS WITH THE MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT (MILF) AND FOR ECONOMIC SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN MINDANAO TO ENSURE LASTING PEACE AND PROGRESS IN THE REGION.
“True progress, one that raises everyone’s standard of living, can only be achieved in Mindanao once the dispute between our government and the MILF is resolved. Skirmishes between the two forces will continue to hinder commercial activities in the region as well as displace thousands of its residents, until and unless a permanent agreement, one that both parties are willing to comply with, is forged.” Loren said.
According to Loren, who has earlier initiated peace efforts with the rebel group, the true solution for ensuring lasting peace in Mindanao is economic and social progress. “Negotiating with the MILF should be done alongside providing more jobs, opportunities and sources of livelihood in the region. Poverty breeds rebellion. The Filipino nation is a steadfast people, but when there’s no food in the table and they see no means to get out of poverty, and that government has failed to address this, then we can just empathize, we understand how a situation like that could lead men and women to take up arms and go against the system.”
Loren described the peace situation in Mindanao a vicious cycle, with poverty causing rebellion and rebellion sinking the region further down the poverty line. She said she is more than open to facilitate negotiation and conciliation efforts with the MILF.
Loren has helped free captives of the Abu Sayyaf, such as Ces Drilon and Arlene dela Cruz, and has been bestowed the title of honorary Muslim Princess for her efforts to bring peace and progress in Mindanao.
She has co-authored the law creating the Mindanao Economic Development Authority (MEDA) a permanent body that will integrate and harmonize all peace and development efforts in Mindanao, and allow it to catch up to mainstream national development. Loren has also filed a bill supporting Mindanao’s rubber industry, one of the main employment-generating industries in the region. It provides for R&D programs that improve the quality and increase the productivity of rubber for the benefit of smallholder rubber producers and processors.