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PIA Press Release

PGMA's new paradigm for peace in Mindanao successful in North Cotabato

Kidapawan City (13 February) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's new paradigm for peace in Mindanao, specifically the conduct of authentic dialogues with the communities is working well in the province of North Cotabato.

North Cotabato Gov. Jesus Sacdalan reported to the President at today's dialogue with the peace stakeholders in the province that the local government units in the province have implemented their own local peace initiatives in support of the President's goal of ending the decades-old conflict in Mindanao and finally achieve a long -lasting peace in Mindanao.

Sacdalan said the 17 towns and one component city that comprise the province, through the mayors, have conducted dialogues with the New People's Army (NPA) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), including their relatives in their areas of responsibility.

Sacdalan also said that educating the children also helped a lot in discouraging them to join the rebel groups. "Our efforts are working well. Insurgents and secessionist groups have refrained from attacking our towns," he said.

The governor also said that the local government units have implemented development and livelihood programs/projects, as he stressed that indeed, the root causes of conflict is poverty.

The province, according to Sacdalan, needs more CAFGUs to help sustain peace as well as more physical and human infrastructure, most urgent of which are the bridges and roads damaged by the recent floods in the province.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Retired General Avelino Razon said the LGUS concerns were immediately addressed by the President, among which are the damaged infrastructure in the province to be immediately repaired and the settlement of land conflicts especially in conflict areas.

Razon said upon instructions of the President, the Task Force on Land Disputes that included the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Agriculture and Agrarian Reform and, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, have met to come up with appropriate measures to specifically address this concern.??At the same time, Razon said the military and the police will continue to stabilize the situation in these conflict areas.

Razon said the conduct of dialogues with the peace stakeholders will be a continuing effort of the government. The President arrived here this morning to led in the consultations with the peace stakeholders North Cotabato.

This is in line with her commitment to advance the peace process in Mindanao this year to finally put an end to the decades-old conflict in Southern Philippines and bring about progress and prosperity.

The President's new paradigm for peace includes an interfaith dialogue, authentic consultations with the communities, and the principles of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration for armed rebel groups.

The President has said that when hard power has not proven its value in achieving peace, the new model for dealing with the flashpoint areas in Mindanao has focused on a new combination of soft and hard power to promote peace.

Thus, she said there must be confidence-building measures grounded on strong interfaith dialogue and cultural awareness, investments, and basic infrastructure development.

Last Jan. 28, the President also led the peace dialogue with the stakeholders in Koronadal City. (PIA) [top]

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