Press Release
August 21, 2008


With much optimism that despite the recent conflicts and atrocities in Mindanao, peace is still attainable, Senator Richard Gordon said that the government should pursue peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"The situation really requires the highest state of patriotism for all of us. We must never lose sight of the national interest. The first task of governance is unity and stability. We remain a country. There are scalawags amongst the MILF, but there is a process in the ceasefire agreement where they will be covered by that. The important thing is, if there are people who are still willing to talk peace, let us talk to them and let us continue to pursue that," Gordon said.

Although he wants the peace process to go on, Gordon said the military should not put their guard down and the police must go after the perpetrators of the recent attacks in North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte and Sarangani.

"The law enforcers should go after those renegades. They should be punished for what they did. Civilians should never be part of the war, even wounded soldiers and combatants should be taken away from the battlefield. What these renegades did are not acts of Muslims, those are acts of cowards. They are a shame to the world," Gordon said.

"We want peace, but we must communicate that those who destroy the peace are considered outlaws and terrorists and that they must be treated as such," he added.

Gordon explained that for the peace talks to succeed it should be clear to the MILF what the government can give and do for them.

"Ako gusto ko continuous ang engagement natin sa peace process. And as far as I'm concerned, dapat sabihin ng ating mga negosyador kung ano ang pwedeng gawin within a country na dapat maibigay ng wasto. I think itong present agreement na ito, it will really violate the Constitution. I know it's very difficult, and that is why you need the imagination of legal technicians to use the right language, the right words that they will understand and accept. It's not enough that you conduct a peace agreement, you still have to sell it to Congress and to the people of this country more importantly, and at the same time if you are not able to sell it successfully, you're not going to have the peace. Kailangan talaga tanggapin ng lahat 'yung agreement," Gordon said.

Gordon said he sees that the divide between Muslims and Christians is not that wide, as he maintained optimism that even with the present circumstances in Mindanao, peace is still within reach and people can live well in harmony.

"We must not lose sight that the harbor of peace can be attained. It is not a wide divide as some people would like to project it to be. All it needs is defining how we can actually close the gap and allow breathing room for our people out there to be able to have their place in the sun, not as a homeland that is separate, but as a people together, working with one another and looking at the common purpose of peace, unity, stability and solidarity," Gordon said

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