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.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Zambo officials to lead protests vs Gov't-MILF agreement

Zamboanga City officials will lead a street demonstration on Monday to dramatize their protest against the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MoA) between the government and the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Aug. 5, city mayor Celso Lobregat said on Saturday.

In an interview with a radio station, Lobregat said the city’s lawmakers will also file a petition before the Supreme Court on Monday in a bid to stop the signing of the MoA, which he said could place the Philippine republic at a great disadvantage.

“Binabalak din ng mga businessmen sa Zamboanga na magsara sa banding 11 ng umaga para sila’y makasali sa protesta (business establishments in the city are also planning to close shop temporarily at 11 a.m. on Monday so that they can join the mass actions)," he said.

Lobregat called on city residents to join and wear red shirts or red arm bands in solidarity with the protesters, who will begin their march at the City Hall.

Stressing that t “red" is a color of courage, Lobregat said the people of Zamboanga will try to make a lot of noise to catch the attention of the national government before they commit themselves to something they may soon regret.

In a parallel move, he said their lawyers will ask the Supreme Court to act urgently by issuing a TRO (temporary restraining order) against the signing of the MoA, which is scheduled in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur on Aug. 5.

Lobregat said the petition to be filed with the Supreme Court will be spearheaded by the city’s two members of Congress, Reps. Maria Isabelle Climaco and Erico B. Fabian.

Lobregat said they are all for peace in Mindanao but they are against the inclusion into the proposed Bangsamoro (Muslim homeland) Juridical Entity of places in the city whose population are predominantly non-Muslim.

Under the MoA, the two sides are to agree to a Muslim ancestral domain that would include about 700 more barangays (villages) in the so-called juridical entity, in addition to the existing Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM, which is composed of the city of Marawi and the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao (including Shariff Kabunsuan), Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Lobregat said even administration ally Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, who earlier planned to file a bill postponing the ARMM elections in furtherance of the peace process, backed out when he learned that parts of his province, Bukidnon, would be taken out and added into the proposed juridical entity.

The MILF has asked that the Aug. 11 ARMM polls be postponed so as not to delay the enforcement of a peace agreement that the two sides may sign.

Politicians from Central Mindanao led by North Cotabato Vice Gov. Manny Piňol earlier vowed to do "everything" to stop the signing of the MoA, which they claimed would put their people and province in "jeopardy."

Piňol said that under the draft agreement, the expanded ARMM will include two progressive towns in North Cotabato’s first district - Kabacan and Pikit - and about 98 villages in at least 10 towns in the province.

"That bothers me a lot. How could that be? How were they able to identify those towns and villages? Many of these areas are not even attached to ARMM and are not majority Muslims," he lamented.

Piñol will ask the Supreme Court to order the national government, through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), to make public the contents of the MoA and "a prayer that the GRP panel will not sign such accord until such time there is an ‘exhaustive’ consultation with the people affected." - GMANews.TV

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