Nov 8, 2012

Philippines - EU, Asian leaders pledge continuous support for Mindanao peace process

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Elated by a preliminary peace deal with Moro rebels, European and Asian leaders have committed to move the peace forward in Mindanao and develop the region, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said Tuesday night.

Fresh from his attendance at the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting in Laos, the President reported that the financial downturn in some countries in Europe and Asia cast a shadow on the agenda of the two-day summit that ended Tuesday.

But many of the more than 50 presidents and prime ministers from the two regions have expressed interest in investing in the country, Aquino said.

Some praised the Philippine government for forging a framework agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in a bid to set up an autonomous Bangsamoro homeland, and committed to help Mindanao attain lasting peace and progress, he said.

“In all the meetings that we attended, we heard two main points. First is the collective praise for the successful crafting of the framework agreement for the Bangsamoro. The second is their readiness to be part of the process to foster peace and development in Mindanao,’’ he said after arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at around 10pm.

“Their initiative to provide livelihood for the former MILF fighters and wean them from the culture of violence gladdens the heart,’’ he continued.”Their adoration for the Philippines reverberates. Indeed, we’ve come a long way.”

The President said at the summit he took up the protection of the rights of Filipino migrant workers who would suffer the brunt of the global downturn. He said he asked the European Union not to blacklist Filpino seafarers.

“This trip is for the Filipino migrant workers, and we did not fail in our mission,’’ he said.

In his talks with leaders of the European Council and European Commission, Aquino said he took up the concerns of 91,000 Filipino seafarers aboard European-owned vessels who have been placed on the “whitelist’’ and could be blacklisted for non-compliance with shipping standards.

“We assured them that we will double our efforts to comply with the standards,’’ he said. “Because of the steps we’ve taken, we’re currently on the whitelist, and we hope we won’t be removed from the whitelist.’’

The President called his attendance at Asem a success.

TJ Burgonio

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