PNoy arrives in MILF turf

President Beningo Aquino III arrived before noon Monday at the stronghold of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Maguindanao province.

Aquino arrived past 11 a.m. at the the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute compound in Sultan Kudarat town.

Aquino, with MILF leader Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, will launch the Sajahatra Bangsamoro socio-economic initiative, which aims to uplift the health, education and livelihood conditions of MILF communities.

"We welcome [you] on this humble yet historic grounds... we are humbled by this grand gesture of the President," said Ebrahim in a speech delivered at the event.

"We are humbled by this grand gesture of the President of personally launching several soci-eocnomic projects on this hollowed ground that has seen many of the battles we have fought," he added.

In October 2011, the MILF and the government signed a framework peace pact that seeks to create a new Bangsamoro political entity by 2016.

In an interview aired over GMA News TV's News To Go earlier in the day, MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar said they were thankful to Aquino because he recognized his responsibility to the Muslim people.

"Nirecognize niya na kanyang responsibilidad sa pagtugon sa problema ng mga Bangsamoro people at dahil po dito kami nagpapasalamat,"

Jaafar said.

He explained that although former President Joseph Estrada was the first president to visit their turf, Aquino was the first president who wants to sincerely address their problems.

"Yun pong pgaposk ni dating Pangulong Estrada sa kampo ng MILF eh pag-insulto po yun sa Bangsamoro Muslim kundi sa buong Muslim ng buong mundo dahil nagdala po ang Pangulong Estrada ng isang truck ng alak at lechon at nag-inuman sila doon kumain sila ng lechon sa loob ng moske," he said.

"Ngayon yung pagapasok ni Pangulong Aquino sa kampo ng MILF [ay] upang ideliver ang kanyang...responsibilidad na iresolve yung pangunahing problema ng grupo ng mga sakop ng Pilpinas at pinapangunahan ni Pangulong Aquino," he added. — Kimberly Jane Tan/RSJ, GMA News

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