Lobregat thanks PNoy for peace efforts in Mindanao PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 17 January 2013 14:55

Mayor Celso Lobregat yesterday led Zamboangueños in welcoming President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino to the city and at the same time thanked him for his painstaking efforts to reach a final settlement and attain lasting peace in the country particularly Mindanao.

Lobregat, along with House Deputy Speaker and District 1 Rep. Beng Climaco and other city officials met President Aquino at the Edwin Andrews Air Base (EAAB) in Sta. Maria upon the latter’s arrival from Cebu City past 3pm yesterday.

The president keynoted the opening of the forum “Schools Serving Society”: Top Level Agenda of Higher Educational Institutions for Mindanao Peace and Development” attended by presidents of Mindanao state universities and colleges organized by the Ateneo de Zamboanga University at the Garden Orchid Hotel yesterday afternoon.

“Our best wishes to you Mr. President and to your administration as you painstakingly pursue the goals you have set out, most particularly in reaching a final settlement and attaining lasting peace in the country especially in Mindanao,” Lobregat said in his welcome message during the opening program.

He expressed belief that the president realizes the position of Zamboanga City and its constituents in its exclusion in the autonomous region. He related that in 2001, Aquino was then a congressman together with then congressman and now DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, then congresswoman and now Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Lualhati Antonino and himself in the 11th Congress.

“He was present up to the wee hours of the morning during the long and passionate debates prior to the votation on the Republic Act 9054 – An Act to Strengthen and Expand the Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao”, the mayor said.

In 2008, Lobregat said, Zamboanga together with North Cotabato and Iligan and other areas defended before the Supreme Court, the plea against the MOA-AD, a pact that was shrouded with secrecy and was later declared by High Court as unconstitutional and contrary to law.

“Our opposition to the MOA-AD did not mean that we are not for peace and that we are spoilers of peace. WE ARE FOR PEACE but not for appeasement — we are for peace that is genuine, just and long lasting”, he affirmed.

Fast forward to present, the framework agreement between the government and the MILF has been signed, Lobregat said, but stressed that negotiations are still ongoing especially on the details. “And we all pray for a final settlement—a settlement that is grounded on consultations, within the framework of the 1987 Constitution and the National Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.”

Meanwhile, the mayor said Zamboanga is pleased to host the 3-day gathering of Mindanao state universities and colleges presidents with the hope of helping Mindanao “emerge from decades of conflict and shape a future built on unity and cooperation, respect for human rights, equality and rule of law.”

“Converging here in Zamboanga for this top level action agenda, we call on the Mindanao institutions of higher education to break a new ground by consolidating and integrating into the curriculum, programs and projects aligned with the government’s campaign to win the peace”, he added.

Aquino’s visit to Zamboanga yesterday was his first as President of the country but it was in the city where he sought spiritual guidance and enlightenment that eventually saw his ascendancy to the highest post of the land.

Accompanying the president to Zamboanga were Secretaries Mar Roxas of DILG, Jun Abaya of DOTC, Edwin Lacierda who is Presidential Spokesperson and Lu Antonino of the Mindanao Development Authority and several others. — Sheila Covarrubias