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.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Senators want Esperon sacked

For alleged ‘no defense’ comment

Senators on Wednesday called on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to sack her peace adviser, Hermogenes Esperon Jr., for allegedly telling North Cotabato Vice Governor Emmanuel Piñol the military would not defend the province from attacks by Moro rebels.

News reports have quoted Piñol, who filed a petition before the Supreme Court against the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) on ancestral domain between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as saying Esperon warned that if a temporary restraining order (TRO) is issued, the military would not defend North Cotabato, where the rebels and government militia have been skirmishing for weeks, from attacks.

The high court issued a TRO on Monday that effectively scuttled the scheduled signing of the MOA on Tuesday.

Esperon has since denied Piñol’s claim but Senator Manuel Roxas II said at a press conference that the former Armed Forces chief of staff could be liable for administrative charges.

“Ito ay labag sa batas at labag sa kanyang sinumpaang tungkulin [This is against the law and against his sworn duty],” Roxas said.

Senator Rodolfo Biazon, on the other hand, questioned Esperon’s credibility as a peace adviser.

“Esperon is not in the same level of credibility as former peace advisers such as Haydee Yorac, Howard Dee, Manual Yan, and Jesus Dureza. They were acceptable to the rebels themselves,” Biazon said.

He and Roxas said Esperon’s credibility had been suspect from the start because of the issues of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances that were raised against the military when he was Armed Forces chief of staff.

“[Extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances] cannot be ignored because of conclusions made by the different investigative agencies, saying that the military had certain levels of responsibility,” Biazon said.

Aside from Esperon, the entire peace panel should be replaced because “they have lost the rapport with the MILF.”

Senate Minority Leader Francis Pangilinan warned the government that signing the MOA could “bring division instead of harmony.”

He called the agreement “highly suspect as it raises so many legal and constitutional questions, which will not only divide the people but also test our democratic processes.”

Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. also warned the government that the conflict in Mindanao could escalate “if the Arroyo government will insist on concluding a peace agreement with the Muslim rebels that does not conform with the Constitution.”

Pimentel called on government to review the agreement on ancestral domain and renegotiate the terms and provisions that allegedly violate the Constitution.

(Abigail Kwok; INQ.net)

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