SULTAN KUDARAT, Maguindanao — Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol visited the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) camp in Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao, where he was the guest of honor during graduation rites for former MILF combatants who trained under the Philippine Rice Research Institute and Japan International Cooperation Agency.
In his speech, Piñol stressed that he is not anti-Muslim, contrary to sentiments and statements by others in the past.
He also thanked the MILF for their warm welcome.
"Let's forget about the past," Piñol said, adding that he does not feel bad that he lost the elections in North Cotabato when he ran for governor in the past.
Piñol also said President Rodrigo Duterte is willing to help the Moro community improve their lives, especially in agriculture.
Meanwhile, MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim said Piñol is considered a friend of Muslims.
In his speech, Ebrahim stressed the importance of the upland rice-based farming technology training program to the lives of the former MILF combatants. The program, he added, can help them earn a living.
The Department of Agriculture also distributed five units of power tiller hand tractors, two farm tractors and 400 bags of upland rice seedlings for the MILF community.