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PIA Press Release

PGMA optimistic peace and development in Mindanao will be achieved soon

Manila (25 July) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is optimistic that Mindanao will soon achieve peace and development in the region.

In her speech during the launching of "Katas ng VAT" (value added tax) program in Shariff Kabunsuan Province where she turned over P2-million check to Secretary Tahir Sulaik of the Department of Health-Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (DoH-ARMM) for the upgrading of the Dinaig Municipal Hospital from primary care to secondary care hospital, the President said that despite having large agricultural land and high productivity rate, "Mindanao has six or seven of the 10th poorest provinces in our country."

She attributed this to the "endless conflict" in the region which has affected its economy for many years.

"For decades, a comprehensive peace alluded us. But I am proud that (peace) talks will soon resume (between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front)," she said.

"We are on the threshold of peace," she added.

Arroyo noted that if the Mindanaoans "can truly move from arms to farms, we can give a gift of peace and prosperity to Mindanao and to the entire country."

"Kaya inaasahan ko ang tulong ninyong lahat para sa kapayapaan at tagumpay ng ating peace talks," she said.

Meanwhile, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said despite having problems with regards to peace and security situation in the region, Mindanao has improved its poverty incidence ratings based on the latest result of the survey conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS).

"If you looked at the data, Mindanao improves at a low 12.3 percent as compared to previous rating of 16 percent," he said.

"Alam nyo naman, Mindanao is supposedly troubled with poverty and conflict or both. Pero yung results (in the latest SWS survey) is indicative of a positive result," he said.

Dureza credited this to various government interventions in addressing the challenge to improve the lives of the Mindanaoans.

"Ang focus ng Pangulo -- with all interventions she has ordered implemented and are ongoing right now -- we hope as we overcome this challenge, eventually this will also improve peace and order in the region that would lead to progress," he said.

Dureza earlier announced that members of the GRP-MILF peace negotiating panel will be meeting again on July 24 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to finalize the memorandum of agreement (MoA) on ancestral domain that they will sign that would signify the resumption of formal peace talks.

Ancestral domain has been the key and thorny issue in the negotiations between the government and the MILF since December 2004.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon Jr. has said the three remaining contentious issues on territory and governance of the Bangsamoro ancestral domain were resolved by both panels.

He said both parties have agreed to meet again on July 24 to finalize the draft MoA on Ancestral Domain and its signing before the end of July. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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