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MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III announced on Monday the allocation of some P8.5 billion for the implementation of the Transition Investment Support Plan in Mindanao.
"We are now at the beginning of a comprehensive agreement that will map out the detailed steps, detailed commitments, and detailed programs that will lead to the fulfillment of our long-term goals. We are committed to enabling our partners to transform themselves to a genuine political party that can help facilitate the region’s transition towards a truly peaceful and progressive place," the President said in his speech during the historic signing of the Framework Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) held at the Rizal Ballroom in Malacanang.
As such, President Aquino said, the government has committed P8.59 billion for the Transition Investment Support Plan. This is on top of the P12.93 billion already allocated by the administration through the national budget.
"We are committed to giving the region its rightful share, not just now but each and every time, confident that it will redound to the benefit of all citizens, and will not just line the pockets of a very select few," he said.
The President said the signing of the Framework Agreement "not only marks a new chapter in our history; it now defines the very path we take as a people -- one where opinions are heard and hope is shared; where understanding and consensus breed meaningful solutions for all stakeholders; one where every child is offered the opportunity to shape his own destiny."
"We understand all too well the cycle of suffering that our people have had to go through for the past two generations. We have seen children torn from their homes, and communities driven away from the land they have tilled. We have seen lives lost and justice sought, but because of the system’s failure to provide avenues for understanding and effective redress of grievances, many resorted to the path of vengeance and violence. I myself lost my father to an oppressive system; I myself thirsted for justice and was deprived of it then by the dictatorship," he said.
President Aquino vowed to work "as hard as I can to see that the culture of impunity is dismantled, and that the foundations of righteousness and cooperation are laid."
"We will give our people what is truly due them -- a chance to direct their lives towards advancement in a democratic, peaceful, and safe society," he stressed.
However, the President said, much work remains to be done in order to fully reap the fruits of this Framework Agreement.
"We have commitments to fulfill, people to lead, and dreams to achieve. The details to be laid out in the annexes, in particular, provide us with a solid opportunity to expand the common ground whose principles we have already articulated through the agreement," he said.
"I am confident that our faith in each other, and in the Filipino people, will not waver, and in fact will only grow even stronger in the years to come," he added.
For her part, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita "Ging" Deles thanked the President for being the "moral compass" of the peace process with the MILF and "for guiding us through the negotiations, and for keeping our minds firm and our hearts, buoyant."
"One person in this room never gave up hope. From Day One of his leadership, he seized the peace, forged and hammered it and polished it to its sterling radiance. His mother, our beloved President Corazon C. Aquino, was known throughout the world as an icon of democracy. President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, from this day forward, shall be known as the president who made the Bangsamoro possible," said Deles in her speech.
Deles said the signing of the Framework Agreement "sees the beginnings of a once-rended family that has finally come together as one -- diverse in beliefs, passionate always, and perhaps, arguing all the time, but still a family resolved to face the future and all its challenges, together."
"I have been an advocate of peace almost my entire life but this is the first time that I have seen such broad and overwhelming support as we are now seeing for the agreement that we are about to sign today," she said.
"So many challenges await us, but the bridge of trust that spans this room is strong enough to withstand the trials ahead, however difficult they may be. Never again shall we allow that bridge to be undermined, weakened, or destroyed by the forces of greed, avarice and envy. We shall hold up that bridge with the force of our dreams and ideals, enabling it to bring our entire society together and enrich the democratic institutions we all hold dear until we all breach the firmament of hope and arrive together, finally, in the bright realm of greatness as one people, under one Republic, sharing one destiny," she added.