Press Release
January 26, 2010


Davao City - Speaking at the largest gathering of independent Muslim religious leaders, Senator Loren Legarda said we need to seriously examine and explore new ways for an effective and sustained peace negotiation process that will bring about long-term political settlement.

"Our society needs peace and cooperation to harness our resources - people, talent, capital, and infrastructure - to build a national consensus to advance social and economic development in a pluralist and democratic system. A nation mired in war and divided cannot move democracy and development forward," said Legarda.

Legarda also outlined measures under the Bangsamoro Agenda that she supports.

"In the short term, we need to protect civilians and call for a ceasefire. We should demilitarize ARMM and strengthen the National Police Force. As measures of good governance, we must give the Muslims significant representation and participation in government, create the Shari'ah Appellate Court, and immediately mobilize government resources to rehabilitate conflict-affected areas in Mindanao," she said.

In the medium- and long-term, Legarda said we must strengthen the rule of law in the region, fully implement the 1996 Final Peace Agreement, and reform the electoral process in Mindanao. We must also genuinely capacitate the ARMM-Regional Government for it to be able to fulfill its promise of peace and progress to the Muslim people.

Legarda authored RA 9177 or the Eid'ul Fitr Holiday Law honoring the first day of Shawwal as a national holiday for the observance of Eid'ul Fitr. It also declares as the tenth day of Zhuld Hija, the twelfth month of the Islamic Calendar, a regional holiday in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) for the observance of Eid'ul Adha.

She was bestowed the title of "Bai Alabi" by Maranao Sultanate League and the Muslim people.

Organized by the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID) for the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines (NUCP), the gathering was attended by around 500 independent ulama and aleemat representing over 200 ulama-led organizations, an unprecedented assembly of Muslim religious leaders rarely seen in the country.

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