Aquino talks of a bright future for Mindanao

President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday assured the people in Mindanao that better days are coming into the autonomous island as the government and its partners step up its efforts to craft the Bangsamoro Basic law to bring peace in the troubled south.

Aquino, speaking at the 2nd Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Summit on Governance and Development in Davao City, said the area, which will soon be called the Bangsamoro, is now experiencing increased investments, more peaceful elections, and more social service coverage from the government.

He noted that aside from security and peace, the national government is focusing on providing assistance to boost the region's health and economy, especially for indigent citizens enrolled in the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program.

Citing data from the Department of Health-ARMM, he said 45,659 women were given prenatal visits in 2013 alone, while 36,876 women received post-pregnancy services. At least 14,179 babies born in 2013 underwent newborn screening, he added.

Moreover, investments in 2013 has reached P1.46 billion, Aquino said, or 157 percent higher than 2012’s P569 million.

In the CCT program, the Aquino adminstration’s flagship anti-poverty program, at least 389,656 households in the ARMM were enrolled, which means that more children are getting enrolled in schools as required by the program, Aquino noted.

Aquino said that with the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which was completed early this year after years of intense discussion between the government peace panel and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) panel, permanent changes and development will come into Mindanao.

The decades of conflict between the government forces and the Moro rebels have resulted in slow growth in economy, fear, and have claimed scores of lives of rebels, soldiers and civilians. Aquino urged the people in Mindanao to participate and give the framework agreement a chance by showing support and ratify for its enactment as a law. (Ron B. Lopez)