He was accompanied by Liberal Party (LP) Manila mayoral candidate Alfredo Lim, who expressed his full support for the continuation of Daang Matuwid.
Lim and Roxas both received a warm welcome at the Islamic Center. According to the Grand Imam Abdul Bashet Marangit, Roxas is the first presidential candidate to actively reach out to Manila’s Muslim population.
“Ito ay simbolo o pagpapakita sa kahalagahan na binibigay natin sa kapayapaan sa Mindanao,” Roxas said.
In his address, Roxas brought attention to the gains of the Mindanao region under Daang Matuwid. From the total of P125 billion invested on infrastructure projects in Mindanao under the 12 years of the combined Estrada and Arroyo administrations, government spending for the region has more than doubled under the Aquino administration, reaching a total of P260 billion. This, he explained, is part of Daang Matuwid’s pursuit for peace in the region, which should continue alongside the strengthening of local economies.
“Progress without peace, imposible. Pero peace without progress, imposible rin. Kaya sabay-sabay ‘yan. Ang progreso, ang imprastraktura, ang tulong, ang serbisyo, katapat nun ay ‘yung kapayapaan. ‘Yan ang hinahanap natin sa Ka-Mindanaoan,” he said.
“Makakaasa na patuloy nating hahanapin ang kapayapaan, ang pag-uunawa sa isa’t isa nang sa ganoon, magkaroon ng solid basis para sa progreso ng Mindanao. May investments, may turismo, pag-unlad ng ekonomiya na siyang ka-partner ng kapayapaan,” he promised.
Roxas likewise seeks to forward the passing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law under his administration, adding that he would push for broader consultations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“Patuloy tayong mag-uusap, patuloy tayong magmi-meeting, patuloy nating hahanapin ang kapayapaan, susulong tayo ng panibagong bill sa kongreso,” he said. “Hindi naman pwede na hayaan na lang nating magpatuloy ang digmaan, ang hidwaan, ang putukan, ang mayat-maya’t bombahan sa Ka-Mindanaoan.”
Roxas also brought attention to Ina Ambolodto, a member of the Liberal Party’s senatorial slate and the only Muslim candidate actively advocating for the peace process in Mindanao.
Ambolodto, who lived in a conflict zone in Mindanao growing up, was the Assistant Secretary for Muslim Affairs and Special Concerns in the Department of Interior and Local Government under Jesse Robredo and Roxas.
For Roxas, the inclusion of a female representative of Muslim Mindanao in their slate shows Daang Matuwid’s commitment to peace and justice in the region.
“Siya po ay pinili para sa kanyang paninidigan… Ang ipinaglalaban po ni Ina Ambolodto ay ipinaglalaban nating lahat. Pantay na laban, may respeto. Walang diskriminasyon. Na ang bawat mamamayang Pilipino ay nabibigyan ng punong pagkakataon para makapamuhay ng may dangal: na ‘pag kumayod tayo, aasenso tayo,” Roxas said.