Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Palace: Moro homeland accord not a 'done deal'

The Office of the President denied Wednesday that the Moro homeland agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is already a "done deal" as claimed by the separatist group.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), which seeks to expand the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), will still need enabling laws for it to be implemented.

Ermita said the MOA-AD is part of a comprehensive peace agreement that both parties will still have to negotiate and conclude. "Not until then can anything be implemented," he said.

He cited as an example the Ramos administration's 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which Congress had to translate into enabling laws before the accord was actually implemented.

Ermita said the MOA-AD is only one of three major agenda items in the peace talks with the MILF that will form part of the final peace agreement. The two others already agreed upon are on security and on rehabilitation and development.


Sergio Apostol, chief presidential legal counsel, said the MOA-AD is not yet final since it was just "initialed" by the chief negotiators of both sides. This just indicates that the contents had already been discussed, he said.

"It's not yet a done deal. It was just initialed to be sure na yung napagusapan eh nandyan. Paguusapan pa yan sa formal talks, so it's not

yet final," Apostol said.

Poor strategy

Senator Manuel 'Mar' Roxas II, meanwhile, criticized the Arroyo government for its poor strategy in negotiating the MOA-AD with the MILF.

He said the government failed to consult the key stakeholders in Mindanao on the MOA-AD, which has prompted local politicians, indigenous groups, and many civil society groups to criticize the accord.

"Our people do not understand this agreement. There was clear lack of consultation and very few know about the contents of the agreement. This proves the government used the wrong strategy to negotiate, a strategy of hiding the truth and of forcing the agreement on those who will be affected," Roxas said.

"This is not the way to negotiate a peace agreement. Everyone must be involved and must be won over to support it. If not, it's only a peace agreement on paper, and conflict will continue," he added.

Done deal

The MILF, on the other hand, reiterated its position that the MOA-AD is already a "done deal" even if the Supreme Court (SC) stopped the scheduled signing of the agreement in Malaysia last Monday.

"It makes no difference to the MILF whether a signing takes place or not. The signing ceremony is a mere formality, the absence of which does not diminish, invalidate or cancel the MOA-AD," MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said.

"The MOA-AD is the textual version of the consensus points arrived at by both Parties through a long process of negotiations beginning in 2004 as a consequence of the inclusion of Ancestral Domain as the third aspect in the MILF-GRP Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001," he added.

Iqbal also said "the Supreme Court TRO is a product of the on-going political intramurals within the GRP" and is thus "not binding on the MILF, which is a revolutionary liberation organization of the Bangsamoro people."

The MILF criticized the Arroyo government for its lack of political will in ensuring support for the peace process with the MILF.

"The GRP does not possess the capability of entering into a peace agreement. Therefore the firm commitment and political will to honor signed agreements with the Moro liberation movement by the GRP is under suspect of doubt by the international community," Iqbal said.

Iqbal, however, denied allegations made that the separatist group would wage war as a result of the SC's order stopping the signing of the MOA-AD.

"The MILF has gained a significant moral and political victory in this latest chapter of its historic struggle to resolve the conflict in Mindanao on the negotiating table. From such a victory, the MILF, as its policy dictates, will still pursue the peace process to bring an end to the conflict without, however, losing sight of alternative means to achieve freedom and justice for the Bangsamoro people," he said.

1 comment:

damean said...

In agreement with Sen. Mar Roxas, the president did not execute the peace agreement smoothly. It was done in an almost awkward and clumsy way. So many flaws and in so wrong a time, considering the ARMM elections held a few days ago. On the other hand, these are my thoughts regarding the postponement of the ARMM polls and the peace talks: The president's term is nearing its end and she aims to solve the Mindanao conflict within her term. The peace talks and peace agreement will take another year before it will be approved and implemented. In short, it will take a year or years before the Bangsamoro people will get what they wanted for so long. Therefore she is walking on needles and yet again risking her reputation just to reach the much desired peace in Mindanao. She has two years left and she intends to leave the stage in grand fashion.