Peace corridor created to pave way for relief

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  • A “PEACE CORRIDOR” will be established by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front so that the rebel group can help in the rescue and humanitarian operations for civilians still trapped by fighting in Marawi City, an official said Wednesday.

    Eleven towns in Lanao del Sur, including the city of Marawi, Marantao, Balindong, Tugaya, Bacolod Kalawi, Madalum, Ganassi, Pualas, Calanogas, and Malabang will be secured jointly by government forces and the MILF following earlier calls from President Rodrigo Duterte for Moro groups to help the government fight terrorist groups, said Irene Santiago, chairperson of the government’s implementing panel for the Bangsamoro.

    “President Duterte approved the idea of creating a ‘peace corridor’ to ensure the safety of the civilians and the delivery of the needed humanitarian aid for the displaced persons in the ongoing armed conflict in Marawi City,” Santiago said.

    Santiago, who was designated by Duterte to oversee the humanitarian efforts, said the establishment of a peace corridor was agreed following the meeting with President Duterte, members of the Joint Implementing Panels, and top officials of the MILF on Monday.

    Members of the implementing panels will meet within the week to formalize the details, she said.

    She said the implementing panels would use existing peace mechanisms, particularly the Joint Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities, for the establishment of the peace corridor.

    “The peace corridor is a secure space where humanitarian groups may evacuate wounded and trapped civilians and retrieve dead bodies for burial,” Santiago said.

    “The corridor is also a safe space for goods to reach hungry people in the rural areas whose access to Marawi’s markets have been cut off,” she added.

    “Both the government and the MILF implementing panels are strongly committed to work as partners in finding creative ways to address the root causes of violent conflict in Mindanao at the soonest possible time, starting with the passage of the Bangsamoro enabling law,” Santiago said.

    Duterte noted the ongoing efforts to sustain the peace process between the government and the MILF.

    According to Santiago, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission also briefed the President on the developments in the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

    She said President Duterte emphasized the need to speed up the drafting of the bill so that it can be submitted to Congress in June.

    The Education Department on Wednesday said the opening of classes in Marawi City and eight other school districts in Lanao del Sur will be postponed from June 5 to a later date to ensure the safety of teachers and students.

    Following consultations with regional directors, schools division superintendents, and DepEd Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao officials, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said classes in Marawi City will be postponed for two weeks at most.

    The opening of classes in eight districts from Lanao del Sur 1, those nearest to the armed conflict, will also be postponed, she added.

    “We believe that opening classes as scheduled will contribute in the normalization activities… education will not be compromised by this crisis. Wherever they are, we will reach out to the children,” Briones said following a meeting at Cagayan de Oro City. (J.P. Bencito. Ms)

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