Press Release
February 2, 2010

Villar pushes 'holistic' approach to Mindanao conflict

Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar yesterday said the Mindanao conflict can best be addressed only if all stakeholders are allowed to actively participate in the peace process.

Villar said attaining long-lasting peace in Mindanao will be achieved if the root causes of the conflict are addressed through political and economic reforms.

"Attaining peace in Mindanao requires a holistic and inclusive peace process that would put an end to hostilities," the NP standard-bearer said. "The Mindanao conflict will best be solved by all the stakeholders in the region, not by imperial Manila," he added.

Villar also said the peace process should be taken one stage at a time and not be rushed. "The peace process should not be rushed just so it can be another medal on someone's 'legacy.' The surest way to shoot the peace process down is by injecting politics into it," he said.

Villar wants an integral development strategy for Mindanao that revolves around massive government investment in transport infrastructure in key areas, greater autonomy for local government units (LGUs), and financing and development programs that will promote entrepreneurship.

"The Mindanao conflict is all about political and economic marginalization and the government's neglect for basic services. I want to make Mindanaoans active participants in nation-building and give them the credit they deserve. They deserve more than a pat in the back," Villar explained.

At the same time, the NP presidential candidate said the region's development rests on effective governance.

"We need to ensure that LGUs in Mindanao, as well as the ARMM government, can provide an honest and efficient government, maintain peace and order, and provide its population with basic services," he said.

The government had initiated peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2001. The talks collapsed in 2008 after the Supreme Court struck down a controversial proposed deal between the government and MILF that would have given the rebel group administrative control over large areas in southern Mindanao.

The peace talks are set to resume on February 18.

"Lasting peace in Mindanao will be achieved only if we address the root causes of the conflict there. We need to empower Mindanaoans through a framework of good governance, equal economic opportunities and delivery of basic services," Villar said.

"Peace and order problems emanate from a sense of neglect, inequality or lack of opportunities. Address these problems and you address the Mindanao conflict in a positive way," he added.

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