DAVAO CITY, Philippines - Confident of a sweep by the ruling Lakas-CMD in the August 11 elections for the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), House Speaker and Lakas President Prospero Nograles said that the first order of business of reelectionist Regional Governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan is to find a lasting solution to the peace and order problem in Mindanao.
Speaking during the recent proclamation of Lakas CMD candidates, Nograles said Mindanao leaders should set aside partisan and personal misunderstandings and work together to finally stop the recurring violence that has stagnated the economic growth for most areas in Southern Philippines.
Ampatuan has been proclaimed by party stalwarts as the only official gubernatorial bet of the ruling Lakas-CMD in the coming regional polls.
Official Lakas-CMD certificates of nomination signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, party chairperson, Nograles and Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, party secretary-general, and former President Fidel Ramos, chairman emeritus, were issued to Ampatuan and ARMM Vice Governor Ansaruddin Adiong and to all the party's 27 candidates for the Regional Legislative Assembly.
Nograles said that while Mindanao is gifted with rich natural resources, vast tracks of fertile lands and a climate that is typhoon-free, it has also been the center of many armed conflicts that scares away any potential investor.
The tandem both obliged in their statements to help build and sustain peace in the Muslim Mindanao region. They also expressed gratitude to national leaders, principally to President Arroyo, Zubiri and Speaker Nograles for their support to the region.
“Gusto nating mag-develop ang Mindanao, hindi naman papasukan ng mga tao dahil takot sila. So I think tayong mga leaders sa Mindanao we should work together towards the attainment of peace,” Nograles said.
“Without peace in Mindanao, mahihirapan ho tayo. Ang madedevelop lang ay iyong mga highly urbanized cities pero ayaw natin iyon eh. Ang gusto natin countryside. It is very difficult to entice people to invest in Mindanao unless we solve the peace and order problem. We have to have peace in Mindanao.”
Nograles said that once peace achieved, Mindanao will leap-frog and immediately take its rightful place as the country's richest island in terms of economy and development.
At the same time, Nograles said that with a solid Lakas slate for the ARMM polls, Mindanao is again expected to deliver victory for the administration party in 2010.
“Yan po ang pinaka-solid na region sa buong Pilipinas when it comes to the delivery of votes for a political party. Kung sino ang kandidato ng Lakas ay iyon din ang uupo sa Palasyo on 2010. Mindanao will deliver that,” Nograles said.
He also asked the ARMM leaders to support the charter change proposal that was started by another Mindanaoan, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel as this will also hold the key in ending the armed conflict in the area.
“Walang ibang tao na sosolusyon sa ating problema sa Mindanao kundi tayong mga taga-Mindanao, That is why we have been pushing for federalism because we know that nobody knows Mindanao better than us, Mindanaoans,” he said.