Senate Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation Chairperson Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona welcomed today some members of the British Parliament to share insights on ways to achieve peace in Mindanao.
The delegates were headed by Right Honourable Paul Murphy, member of the House of Commons, Parliament of the United Kingdom; British Ambassador to the Philippines Stephen Lillie; Mindanao Officer of the British Embassy Shane Male and Director of Philippines International Alert Francisco Lara, Jr.
Sen. Guingona said that the purpose of the visit was to exchange views and experience between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland and the critical challenges faced by legislators and executives as they worked towards a systematic process of disarmament and demobilization, useful lesson that can be applied to the ongoing GPH-MILF negotiations.
During the meeting, Murphy shared the key turning points and developments of the Northern Ireland peace process.
He said that the British government ended the crisis with the Belfast Agreement (also known as the "Good Friday Agreement") in 1998, marking a major step forward in the Northern Ireland peace process. The agreement was made up of two inter-related documents: a multi-party agreement by most of Northern Ireland's political parties, and an international agreement between the British and Irish governments.
It included the declaration of ceasefires by most paramilitary organizations. The British government even recognized the principle that the people of Ireland as a whole have the right, without outside interference, to solve the issues of the North and South by mutual consent. That statement was the key to winning support for the agreement from nationalists and republicans.
Sen. Guingona for his part as Chairperson of the Committee on Peace and Unification, said that he is closely monitoring developments on the peace negotiations with the MILF.
"Peace and progress in Mindanao will not proceed if there is no strong and stable leadership," Sen. Guingona said.
He added that Mindanao needs a sustained period of peace so that long-term development can be obtained.