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PIA Press Release

PGMA leads dialogue with peace stakeholders in North Cotabato

Davao City (13 February) -- The 17 municipalities and one component city in the province of North Cotabato strongly support President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's new paradigm for peace in Mindanao, specifically the holding of authentic consultations with the communities.

idapawan City Mayor Rodolfo Gantuango said the involvement of the communities in the peace process will let them "feel more their responsibilities in achieving peace and security in their areas of responsibility."

Mayor Gantuangco stressed that "This is better now than before. With the new paradigm for peace, the concerns of the people who are most affected, will be included in the shaping of any peace agreement."

The President will lead the consultation with the various peace stakeholders in the province. They include the communities that will be represented by the mayors, Bishop Ulama Conference, indigenous people, the church, among others.

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.

Several towns in North Cotabato were attacked last year by the armed group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after the Supreme Court ruled that the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) was unconstitutional.

The municipalities of Aleosan, Makilala, Midsayap, Pigkawayan, Pikit were among those attacked by the MILF. Hundreds of houses, several school buildings were burned and farm animals stolen. Civilians were killed as thousands were displaced.

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

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