'Sajahatra Bangsamoro shows strong gov't-MILF partnership'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 09 2013 02:49 PM | Updated as of Feb 09 2013 10:49 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said the Sajahatra Bangsamoro program, which will be launched on Monday, shows the strong partnership between the government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In a press conference in Cotabato City, Almendras said he is proud that both sides are working together to address the needs of the program’s beneficiaries.

“I'm so proud of the people from both sides of the table. The people who were firing guns at each other are now sitting together in one table and talking on how to make this work. That is the victory already," he said.

The Sajahatra Bangsamoro is an initiative that aims to uplift the health, education and livelihood conditions of MILF communities.

President Benigno Aquino III is scheduled to attend the launch at the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) compound in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao.

Almendras said both sides have been collaborating to identify the target beneficiaries of the services to be delivered by various government agencies.

"It's a process of getting to know each other. And so far it's been wonderful. They (MILF) also want to test if this will work. They also want to test how sincere we are," he said.

Meanwhile, The MILF spokesperson for Sajahatra Bangsamoro, Mike Pasigan, also said the program is "proof of the strong relationship being built by the government and the MILF towards real and lasting peace and development for the envisioned Bangsamoro region."

"This is a big confidence-building measure in the peace process. The good relationship between the two parties, if it continues, will definitely lead to lasting peace in which the whole country will benefit," he said.