EU officials to visit Mindanao in support of peace process between PH gov’t, MILF

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07:01 AM February 12th, 2013

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By: Tarra Quismundo, February 12th, 2013 07:01 AM

Werner Langen, chairman of the Delegation of the European Parliament for Relations with the countries of Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, leads a delegation of parliamentarians from the European Union that will visit Mindanao on Feb. 13-14, 2013, to meet with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. PHOTO FROM FACEBOOK.COM

MANILA, Philippines—Amid renewed optimism over peace and development in Mindanao, a seven-member delegation of parliamentarians from the European Union (EU) have announced they are going to the region this week to express their support for the Philippine peace process.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will visit Mindanao on Wednesday and Thursday to meet with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), according to officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and representatives of the International Monitoring Team (IMT), of which the EU is a member.

The European Parliament is a regional legislative body that works with individual European governments to legislate measures for some 500 Europeans.

The visiting delegation will be led by Werner Langen, chairman of the Delegation of the European Parliament for Relations with the countries of Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Six other members—Robert Goebbels, Ivo Belet, Roger Helmer, Barbara Weiler, Slawomir Nitras and Adam Bielan—hold positions in the following powerful EU Parliament committees: Economy and Monetary Affairs, Industry, Research and Energy, Employment and Social Affairs Petitions, Internal Market and Consumer Protection and Organized  Crime, Corruption and Money Laundering.

The delegation comes following President Aquino’s visit to a camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to launch the Sajahatra Bangsamoro, a new initiative by the Aquino government to bring socio-economic services to Moro communities, particularly Moro combatants to boost the peace negotiations.

EU Ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux said the visiting parliamentarians would like to “lend their political support to the peace process.”

The European officials are also set to meet non-government and civil society organizations in Mindanao, for long a priority in EU’s development aid program in the Philippines.

The EU said the delegation would also launch a de-mining project in Cotabato City, where mines were known to remain in areas earlier torn by conflict.

“It aims to reduce the threat from landmines and unexploded ordnances and will be implemented in collaboration with both the Government of the Philippines and the MILF,” said the EU.

The visit is part of the group’s five-day official trip to the Philippines, where the delegation is set to also meet with Philippine government officials, particularly those relevant to the trade and investment sector.

“The European Parliament visit underscores EU support for President Aquino’s good governance and anti-corruption efforts that are making the country more attractive to European investment.”

Business and investment “will be high on the agenda” when the MEPs meet with key trade and banking officials and top names in the private sector, the EU said.

The EU Parliament’s delegation will also meet with House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Senator Edgardo Angara, Commission on Human Rights chairperson Etta Rosales and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

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