Lest people in metropolitan Manila forget, the Philippines has Visayas and Mindanao as well aside from Luzon.
So when we talk about development and what the government under the present administration, people in the metro should realize there are ‘other’ places in the country that had been left behind.
Mindanao, to be specific, is the bigger ‘laylayan’ than the concept and definition of Vice President Leni Robredo.
So when you talk about Mindanao Railway project and the peace efforts in Mindanao, that is bigger than picking on the anti-drug war alone.
Last week alone, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced that her government is giving the Philippines some AUD40 million for the peace efforts in Mindanao and another AUD90 million for education development in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Australia wanted to get more involved in the development of Mindanao by supporting the government’s peace initiatives. Of that grant, AUD40 million would be for the development projects in conflict-affected areas, including water supply, infrastructure, and other basic necessities.
Other than money, the Australian government provide technical assistance to ensure the success of the peace process.
And then there is the peace process, which the government has reopened peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Barring any hitches, the peace talks the peace process with the Moro National Islamic Front will conclude with the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that was sidelined during the previous Congress.
It is also worthy to note that the government is addressing the issues raised by the Moro National Liberation Front in relation to the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.
If this journey to change stays unblocked and untroubled, we are bound to see what was never conceived before—the government and rebels jointly implementing development programs in Mindanao.
That is the bigger picture.