ISABELA CITY, BASILAN – Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza urged the Basilenos to work towards fostering a culture of peace and non-violence in the island province during its 44th founding anniversary on Wednesday, March 7, 2018.
“We should work for sustainable peace. It will not come overnight, so that’s why we should maintain it and be patient” he said in his speech at the culmination of the 10-day celebration of Pakaradjaan Festival to coincide with the founding anniversary of Basilan.
Dureza, who has been visiting the island provinces in Sulu archipelago as peace negotiator since the time of former Fidel Ramos, said he noticed the positive changes in the island province.
This was also echoed by Mujiv Hataman, the regional governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), saying the town of Albarka, which is once the hotbed of Abu Sayyaf has no more traces of the terror group.
Basilan has long been the stronghold of Moro rebels, waging political settlement against the government.
Dureza also urged the people of Basilan to campaign for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), saying any peace agreement should have the support of the people.
“I would also want to thank you for the positive reception you have showed for the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL),” Dureza said referring to the proposed law that seeks to provide a genuine political power to the Moro people in the Muslim region.
“Let’s pass and support the BBL. Let’s give it a try, and give it a chance now. This is another rare opportunity for the Bangsamoro.”
“Please resonate this message to all your neighbors. Let’s give this one a chance of working. I appeal to the residents of Basilan to give the BBL a chance,” he said, adding that the problem cannot be addressed by military might alone.
Earlier, both houses of Congress went to the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-tawi for public consultations on the BBL. The legislators aim to pass the bill at the latter part of the month.
The BBL is one of the cornerstone policies of the Duterte administration to address the legitimate grievances of the Moro people in Mindanao.
Dureza explained the new peace and development paradigm of the Duterte administration.
“Peace and development should not come one after the other but simultaneously,” he said, adding that Basilan is benefiting from the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA).
PAMANA is the national government’s convergence program that carries out various development initiatives in remote, conflict-affected communities across the country, ensuring that the needs of the marginalized and underserved sectors are addressed.
For his part, Basilan governor Jim Hataman-Salliman expressed his gratitude to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and to Sec. Dureza for their unwavering support to Basilan.
He said the peace building efforts and implementation of developmental programs will help change the image of Basilan.
The island province, through the Pakaradjaan Festival, is being promoted as a tourist destination site in the country.
Pakaradjaan is a Tausug and Yakan term for merry-making or special event. The festival aims to showcase the better and positive side of Basilan, the largest island in Sulu Archipelago.
Pakaradjaan was first launched in 2011. This year, the celebration started on February 26 and culminated on Wednesday with the theme “Sowing Seeds of Peace: Celebrating Life, Culture and Prosperity”.
The theme “mirrors the current provincial government’s collective efforts of laying the foundation of Basilan’s sustainable future.”
Various activities were held to commemorate the provincial founding anniversary. Among are kite flying contest, exhibition of agricultural products, arts and other cultural shows.