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, October 16, 2008

Esperon contests SC ruling on domain pact

Presidential peace adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr on Wednesday contested the Supreme Court’s decision to rule the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain between the government and Moro rebels as unconstitutional.

Esperon particularly belied the high court’s allegation that the government abused its discretion when it did not conducted consultations prior to the preparation of the MOA-AD.

In a chance interview at the National Defense Colleges of the Philippines inside Camp Aguinaldo, Esperon, a former military chief of staff, said they had dialogues with various stakeholders during the peace negotiations.

“I must say that in our record at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process from 2005 to 2007, there were 140 consultations with various sectors and organizations, including, if I may add, one that lasted for six hours in Zamboanga City. So there were indeed consultations,” he said.

Esperon said the issue regarding the MOA-AD is already moot because the government had already declared beforehand that it is not going to sign the document on its present form.

“We have even said we are withdrawing the MOA from the peace process itself. So it (MOA-AD) is moot,” he said.

On the inclusion of several villages in the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity or expanded Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, Esperon said they agreed to the idea because the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was willing to subject it to a plebiscite.

Esperon said they have strictly followed President Arroyo’s instructions in negotiating for the MOA-AD. He said among the instructions included strict adherence to the Constitution and upholding the territorial integrity of the country.

“The negotiation panel saw to it that we never went out of the Constitution or that we made sure there was a provision that would refer to the legal framework or the Constitution itself,” he said.

Esperon – along with Rodolfo Garcia, chair of the now disbanded government panel negotiating peace with the MILF - was supposed to sign the MOA-AD last Aug. 5 in Kuala Lumpur. But a day before it, the SC issued a temporary restraining order against it.

The TRO was in response to the petition filed by several local government officials in Mindanao who are opposed to the ARMM expansion. - GMANews.TV

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