Peace initiatives to benefit Aquino in May elections

The Peace Initiative taken by President Aquino is likely to win him enough goodwill for scoring hefty votes in the May elections. Rebel commander Abufahad Kinda says Aquino has word of honor. Kinda gave the statement shortly after arriving at the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

President Aquino and MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim have recently launched a socioeconomic program for the 12,000-strong rebel group. Both also signed a preliminary peace deal in 2012. The government and the MILF are also going to sign the comprehensive peace agreement in March, aiming to establish the Bangsamoro entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“We will repay his sincerity,” Kinda said. “If he asks for our support for his candidates, there should be a mutual understanding. Sixty to seventy percent will support him… We’re happy about the sincerity we’re seeing. He keeps his word.”

Kinda has also mentioned that these peace initiatives are resulting in improved relations between Muslims and Christians in Mindanao. According to Aquino, the seeds of trust between himself and Murad were sown during their meeting in Tokyo in August 2011.

Moreover, President Aquino’s visit at the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s

bastion in northeastern Maguindanao has reportedly helped with improving the relations between government and rebel forces.

Gordon Zaipullah, a senior MILF guerilla leader said: “Whenever we see each other before, we shoot each other and try to overcome one another with heavy firepower. Now we are cooperating with each other establish lasting peace in Mindanao.”

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