- Posted February 9, 2013 by
Aquino's visit to MILF camp is a positive thing -- Piñol
By Ben O. Tesiorna
President Benigno Aquino III's scheduled visit to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat on Monday, February 11, is the first ever visit of the president to a rebel camp.
And this visit would bring positive results that would hopefully pave way for the forging of the final peace agreement between the government and the MILF.
Former North Cotabato Governor Emmanuel Piñol, a staunch critic of the MILF and responsible for the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain's (MOA-AD) nullification by the Supreme Court, said the visit is not a "state visit" but rather a "symbolic visit" to an area that long needs the attention of the national government.
At the same time, Piñol said, President Aquino's visit to the MILF camp is also an admission of sorts, for the MILF, that they are still under the sovereignty of the Philippines.
"Di naman yan state visit eh, it's a symbolic visit to an area that long needs the the attention of the government. Also this visit signifies that the MILF is still under the sovereignty of the Philippines," Piñol said.
Nevertheless, Piñol said, Aquino's visit to Camp Darapanan is a positive thing that hopefully would yield positive results for Mindanao.
Unlike during the MOA-AD controversy where Piñol moved heaven and earth to oppose its scheduled signing in Malaysia few years back, this time around, the former governor is keeping his silence on the forging of the Framework Agreement between the Aquino administration and the MILF.
"I am keeping my silence with the framework agreement now because I want it to succeed because a failure would mean return to the fighting. In my meeting with MILF Ghadzali Jaafar, I vowed to help," Piñol revealed.
It was learned that 39 barangays in North Cotabato were included in the new Framework Agreement with the MILF. Piñol said this happened under the watch of incumbent North Cotabato Governor Lala Taliño-Mendoza thus it is she who must explain to the people of the province.
Piñol said he sees nothing wrong with several areas placed under the MILF for as long as this would bring in more development to the areas concerned. He said that if they see prosperity in areas under the MILF, in the future, they would not hesitate to be placed under the control of the MILF.
"Improve the lives of the people within the Bangsamoro territory first before widening their territory," Piñol advised.
CIBAC partylist Rep. Sherwin Tugna also supported Piñol's opinion saying that there must be strong education and economic development in the said areas for lasting peace to be achieved.
"Peace cannot be achieved if people does not have anything to hold on to. For there to be a lasting peace, there must be education and economic development. It may be a slow process but if we keep on working for it, there will be improvement," Tugna said.
Aquino is visiting the MILF main camp in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao to launch Sajahatra Bangsamoro, a social development program for the 12,000-strong MILF and Moro communities.
Aquino’s trip to the outskirts of the MILF’s main base will be the first peace mission there by a president since the insurgency began in the 1970s.
At least 5,000 state security forces are deployed in and around the Maguindanao and Cotabato City areas to guarantee the safety of President Aquino.
This excludes policemen and members of the Presidential Security Group who will secure the President inside the MILF camp. BOT