President Aquino to consolidate gains in Mindanao peace process during two-day Malaysia visit

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Feb. 27 (PNA) — The major thrust of President Benigno S. Aquino III’s two-day state visit here is to consolidate peace and development in Mindanao with recent gains in the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Eduardo Malaya said.

“I think the focus of the visit would be consolidating peace and supporting the development of Mindanao. Malaysia has been the facilitator of the Mindanao peace process since 2001. In our view, they invested in that process as we are in the Philippine government,” Malaya told reporters in an interview at the Philippine Embassy here on Wednesday.

“They stayed the course and what is important, now that there is a successful conclusion of the peace process, is to transform the support and the goodwill from facilitation of the peace process into concrete economic support measure, so that in the words of the Prime Minister—‘the former freedom fighters can be transformed into productive farmers,’” Malaya said.

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdul Najib Razak is also looking forward to exchanging views with the President on how Malaysia can help in the economic support infrastructure for the Bangsamoro region, he added.

Malaya said in a recent interview that after the signing of the last annex in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, 13 Malaysian companies visited Cotabato to look for possible investment opportunities in the Mindanao region.

These Malaysian companies were the first international business groups that have shown interest in putting up their businesses in Mindanao. Malaya said those companies are interested in investing in oil palm plantation, rubber manufacturing, halal foods, infrastructure development, light manufacturing and many others.

The Philippine government and the MILF signed last month the Annex on Normalization that will lead to the decommissioning of the MILF armed wing and private armies in the proposed Bangsamoro area.

The Annex on Normalization was the last of the four annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which was signed by both sides on October 15, 2012. (PNA)