Presidential candidates to bare Mindanao agenda

On April 16, 2010 at least five presidential candidates will bare their Mindanao agenda before an audience composed of more than 5,000 representatives of the religious, civil society, youth, and business organizations united by a vision to foster peace and development in Mindanao here in Davao City.

Presidential candidates will be given 15 minutes to present their plans for the region based on questions that will be taken from key sectoral representatives such as the Moro, indigenous peoples and women.

“The issues of Mindanao- equitable share of investments and development, peace, the Bangsamoro autonomy, ethnicity, conflict and the IDPs– have not been officially addressed by national candidates. As if to say we do not matter as an electoral bloc. The coming together of 9 Mindanao -wide networks to engage the presidential candidates on their mindanao agenda should make the parties rethink that assumption, stated Amina Rasul of the Philippine  Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID), a co-organizer of the event.

The upcoming election is a watershed for this country especially for the more than 10 million Mindanao voters whose unfulfilled hopes of peace have spanned for decades.

“This forum will attempt to find out who among the candidates has a real, viable plan for Mindanao,” stated Gus Miclat of the Initiatives for International Dialogue, a Davao-based  regional advocacy and solidarity institution promoting peace, conflict prevention, democratization and the right to self-determination in Southeast Asia which is anchoring the organizing of the forum.

“Mindanaons may have decided to set their lives and future primarily on themselves, but it will be foolhardy to also totally ignore the nexus of Mindanao’s realities and the key role this country’s future president will take. We need to assert Mindanao’s rightful place in this Republic with an encounter and conversation with all presidential candidates just a month before we decide to cast our vote,” Miclat said.

A covenant for peace and development will be the culminating ritual of the event where presidential candidates commit to the search for peace and development in Mindanao primarily through peaceful means.

The forum, dubbed “Paminaw sa Mindanao (Listen Mindanao)- A Conversation on Peace”  and development with Mindanao civil society and stakeholders is jointly organized by the Bishops- Ulama Conference (BUC); Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID); Kusog Mindanaw; Mindanao Association of State Colleges and Universities Foundation (MASCUF); Mindanao Commission on Women (MCW); Mindanao Business Council (MinBC); Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW); National Ulama Conference of the Philippines (NUCP) and the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID).  (Initiatives for International Dialogue).

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