Zambo will benefit from peace agreement — Lilia PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 03 February 2014 13:23

District 2 Representative Lilia Nuño said the potential benefits of the GPH-MILF peace agreement would also accrue to the city even as it is not part of the core territories of the Bangsamoro.

“Even as Zamboanga is not included in the core territories of the Bangsamoro, our city will benefit from the economic gains the peace agreement will bring us,” Nuño said in a speech she delivered on the occasion of the induction of officers of the newly-organized Zamboanga City Taxpayers’ Association Incorporated on Saturday night Feb 1, 2014.

In her speech, Nuño echoed the results of a research conducted last year by Standard and Chartered, which predicted the potential benefits of the Mindanao peace deal.

The GPH-MILF peace process has brought the country pride, she said. “It has opened opportunity for investments to come in, especially after the signing of the Framework Agreement last October,” she added, as she also mentioned that a business networking forum organized by the Mindanao Development Authority in late 2012 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, clinched for Mindanao an estimated investment commitments of P23 billion.

“These investments may not be directly made in our city, but we will surely benefit from them,” she said.

“The forecast is that post-Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Mindanao’s economic growth will accelerate to double digit. Mindanao will have higher GDP and GDP Per Capita than in any other in the country,” she said.

The research, she said, also found that “the agriculture and fishing sectors would benefit the most in the initial years, with the industry and services sectors picking up subsequently; as there would be a pick-up in domestic and foreign investment as confidence in the region improves. There will be improvement in infrastructure and cost-competitiveness to develop industrial activity.”

The research, she added, found that economic benefits would accrue not just to the Bangsamoro core territories, but to all of Mindanao as well, including Zamboanga City.

“Our beloved city cannot exist in a vacuum. Our neighbors, including those that will be part of the Bangsamoro, will help us achieve prosperity,” she added.

“We expect improvement in the peace and order that comes with the implementation of the peace agreement. Therefore, let us take advantage of the situation to get the economic activities going in our city,” she said.

Nuño said the Annex on Normalization that was signed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last week included elements and modalities that will finally address the proliferation of loose firearms in the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.

“We are confident that the agreement will make ethnic and religious hostility a thing of the past. We trust that this annex will pave the way to putting the instruments of war beyond use. It gives us hope that there will be security in our region,” she said. “This will greatly help improve public order and safety in Mindanao. And if peace is achieved in the conflict areas of Mindanao, can peace in Zamboanga City be far behind?”

Nuño further explained that she understood the reluctance of many Zamboanguenos to embrace the peace negotiations for the establishment of an autonomous Bangsamoro region with optimism.

“The nightmare that was the infamous September siege staged by misguided followers of Nur Misuari is still too fresh in our minds and leaves a bitter impression that a just and lasting peace will always be elusive,” she noted. “But we can’t give up on peace. There is no substitute for peace. Definitely, Zamboanga, a peace-loving city, cannot not stand in the way of peace. History will judge us harshly if we do. Instead, we can choose to be catalysts for peace.”

Despite the odds, we must continue to tread the path to peace. We must build and nurture a climate conducive to peace right here in our city,” she further said.

Nuño also outlined some suggestions on now Zamboanga City residents can support the Mindanao peace process?

“My advice is we must first study and understand the peace agreement. Let us read the draft Framework Agreement. Pore over its annexes and comprehend its legal, security and economic implications.” She said. “Gather yourselves and get a briefing of the salient points of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro when it is finally signed. It is better that we are knowledgeable about its provisions than be critics out of our own ignorance.”

“Now is the time for us to shed off whatever ethnic or religious biases that we have acquired though the many years of war, hatred, bitterness and hostility. We must turn a new leaf and open our hearts to the possibilities of peace. We must welcome the peace process of our neighbors with an open mind,” Nuño pointed out.

Nuño said “listening blindly” to the critics of the peace process without studying the entire exercise will be a big disservice to Zamboanga City, and the country as well. “Standing in the way of peace will be a huge disfavor we will give our children and our children’s children,” she stressed.

Nuño also said that as a Muslim and as a peace-loving citizen, she would support the Mindanao peace process. “Once the proposed Bangsamoro organic law is submitted to Congress for amendments, in order to replace the current ARMM, I will support that bill,” she said.

“But I will do so only after I am assured that the decision of the majority of the people of Zamboanga City to stay out of its territorial jurisdiction, is duly respected,” she added. “I am fully aware that in at least two referendums, the people of Zamboanga City have eloquently opted to stay out of the proposed autonomous Mindanao region.”

“Soon, the House of Representatives will be taking up the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. I intend to keep an open mind when the draft bill arrives in Congress,” she said.

Nuno said she would listen to the criticisms and objections that her colleagues in the House of Representatives may hurl at the bill.

“Rest assured that I will stand by the democratic process that this bill shall go through. As all will be heard, I am ready to cooperate with even the hard-hitting critics,” she pointed out. “But one thing is certain; I will fight for the best interests of Zamboanga City when the Bangsamoro Basic Law is debated in Congress.”

As the people of Zamboanga await the signing and implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, Nuño said the city must undertake its own crucial reforms to achieve peace and order in the city.

“We must remain committed in strengthening the five pillars of justice: law enforcement, public prosecution, judiciary and courts; correctional institutions, and community,” she said.

She added that in order of achieve peace in Zamboanga city, “we must have a strong and effective police force that is insulated from the dirty hands of partisan politics. We must have a police force that is feared by criminals because of its relentless dedication to uphold the rule of law whatever the consequences.”

“We must have competent and fearless prosecutors and judges reputed for their speedy dispensation of justice, impartiality and integrity. We must have a better-managed penal system that will rehabilitate rather than merely punish crime offenders,” she said.

“But most importantly, we must have an effective community-based network that will fully support law enforcers in the campaign against crime,” she added.

Nuño also said she was fortunate to have witnessed the hard work of our peace negotiators from the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF.

They finished the last annex of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro as expected. They performed their task very professionally, she said.

“I was there. I was delighted by the evident prospect of peace,” she said.

Nuño was part the group of legislators who were invited to observe the 43rd GPH-MILF Exploratory Talks being held in Kuala Lumpur that ended with the signing of the Annex on Normalization, the last annex that will complete the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.