Press Release
August 29, 2008


As the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) continue to hang, Senator Bong Revilla urged the government and the business sector to conduct consultations and exercise coordination for the economic development of Mindanao .

Speaking at the 17th Mindanao Business Conference, held yesterday (August 28, Thursday) in Dipolog City , Revilla lamented that while Mindanao has always been regarded as the naturally richest region of the country, it has also always been shrouded with turmoil which impedes its growth and progress.

He explained that the country is very dependent on Mindanao farmers when it comes to fruit crops. Based on the study of Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), six of the top seven producers of corn are in Mindanao: Bukidnon, South Cotabato, Maguindanao, North Cotabato , Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte. For coconut, three of the top five producers are also in the same region: Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur and Lanao del Norte. Four of the top five balinghoy or cassava producing provinces are also in Mindanao : Lanao del sur, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-tawi.

" Mindanao also produces large percentage of the country's bananas, pineapple, durian, lanzones, mangosteen, papaya, langka, pomelo and marang. So, as we face the country's struggle in addressing the food crisis, there really is no other place to look to but Mindanao ," said Revilla.

In his speech, the lawmaker urged the business community to help in the government's efforts for peace and development in Mindanao . "It is high time that we all work towards a common goal, and form a strong partnership for the future of our nation, "he pointed out.

According to Revilla, serious commitment of everyone is needed in order to finally achieve lasting peace in the region. "Every stakeholder must be consulted and contribute so that the results are feasible. Everyone must be sincere so that everyone can hold on to each other's word. Everyone must be transparent, with all cards laid on the table. No hidden agenda, no hidden interests, no hidden pursuits," he said.

"The most basic of programs, such as enhancement and improvement of education, the continuous provision of social services and livelihood, and the funding of vital infrastructure projects, must be implemented to benefit this region. We are very thankful of the attention to Mindanao being given by our foreign friends, but government should not be content with this. We must contribute our share, "Revilla added.

The senator reiterated his position that peace talks must be put on hold until all parties come to the negotiating table with clean hands, including the surrender of those responsible for the recent atrocities in the South. "No one is above the law. Only when there is genuine justice can peace flourish, and development to follow," Revilla stressed.

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