Press Release
January 14, 2009

Best of Region XII and ARMM showcase in Intramuros
to refocus attention on peace efforts in Mindanao

Gordon calls for peace action, not just peace talks

In leading the opening ceremonies for the Best of Region XII and ARMM at the Intramuros last night, Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon called for increased focus on the continuing peace efforts in Mindanao .

"The Best of the Regions in Intramuros will show people great potential for development Region XII and the ARMM hold. The showcase will open people's minds and hearts, giving them more reason to believe that just and lasting peace can and should be achieved," said Gordon.

Despite a slowdown in the peace talks with the MILF, Gordon said that peace in Mindanao can be strengthened through less formal endeavors.

He pointed out that the "Fruits of Hope" project under the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) demonstrated that prompt and effective government action on the problems of people in Sulu and Basilan could lessen support for violent rebel activities.

In 2007, Gordon led the PNRC to implement the Fruits of Hope program with the help of major supermarket chains, logistics companies, and a beverage company.

Through Fruits of Hope, fruit farmers in Sulu and North Cotabato were provided with a means of selling their produce in Manila . The farmers had endured weeks of not being able to sell their produce because of hostilities between the MILF and government forces.

The Best of Region XII and ARMM showcase opened last Jan. 13 at the Clamshell I, Anda corner Sta. Lucia streets, Intramuros, Manila .

"The Best of Region XII and ARMM showcase continues our efforts to show that peace can be achieved, not through peace talks, but peace in action," said Gordon.

The Best of the Regions will showcase the culture, products, and crafts from the provinces of Cotabato, General Santos, Kidapawan, Koronadal and Tacurong, North Cotabato, South Cotabato , Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat, and the provinces of the Autonomous Region In Muslim Mindanao.

As part of the ceremonies, a hundred children together with cultural groups from Mindanao performed an offering ritual for peace.

These children wrote their "wishes for peace" in Mindanao which will be given to government officials in charge of the peace process.

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