Statement of former peace adviser Jesus G. Dureza on the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 05 November 2011 15:25

I categorically deny that I was among the proponents of the P5 million fund assistance for the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) as Malacanang claimed.

While I strongly supported the formation of the BLMI and saw the need to train the bangsamoro for future leadership roles in anticipation of a peace agreement and the need to support it,  I was not privy at all to that P5 million fund, much less a proponent thereof.

I personally checked today with former chairman General Rodolfo Garcia who was chairman then of the panel while I was presidential adviser for the peace process (PAPP). He recalled that the amount of P5 million needed for the BLMI came out for the first time during the workshop conducted by the Development Academy of the Philippines with the MILF and his panel. It was a follow-up of what was taken up during the chairmanship of Secretary Silvestre “Yong” Afable who replaced me when I resigned as panel chair in 2003.

According to Chair Garcia, he sent a letter requesting for the approval of the amount to Malacanang but it  was not approved up to the end of the Arroyo administration.   Former chair Garcia also recalled that there was no mention at all of the P5 million fund assistance in any of the documents covering the exploratory talks that were held, although there was reference to the BLMI that needed support.

Hence, for Malacanang to claim that I was a “proponent” without first ascertaining that I was not even privy to that matter is clearly a ploy to discredit my published criticism of the turnover of the P5 million using government funds and timing it during the initial salvo of the resumption of peace talks with the MILF which I found to be “improper” and lacking in sensitivity. I said in my regular column as Publisher of the Mindanao Times, a daily based in Davao City several weeks ago that the turn-over of the P5 million check and the ensuing public uproar about it may even affect the integrity of the peace process. I also volunteered the view that if the attacks would continue unabated despite the explanations of both the government and the MILF, then it may be good for the MILF to return the check and help clear the air and spare the peace process the public bashing it does not deserve. For those comments, Malacanang accused me of being the “proponent” of something I criticized. Good spin, I admit.

In the course of my verifications, I was also informed just last night that there was also an earlier support fund given during the time of presidential peace adviser Secretary Ging Deles before she resigned in 2006 with the so-called Hyatt 10. This was to support the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) of the MILF.  However, the amount was not given directly to the MILF, as what was recently done, but quietly done by handing it to the Malaysian facilitator who in turn turned it over to the MILF.
I guess, Malacanang should also seek some clarifications from its own peace adviser about this instead of falsely accusing me just so they have someone else to blame for its own missteps.
We all have to help clear up things for the sake of the peace process.
* * * *
Dureza’s reply to former panel chair Silvestre Afable’s statement:
Former chairman Silvestre “Yong” Afable’s statement published in the newspapers today (Nov. 4)  that I must have forgotten what transpired while I was peace adviser entirely missed my point.
I clearly  stated that I had no fore knowledge about the P5 million fund commitment to the BLMI, which President Aquino gave to the MILF recently. I did not say I had no knowledge about the BLMI. As  a matter of fact, while I was the  adviser for the peace process (PAPP) I  knew that Sec Yong before he resigned from the panel started the BLMI during his time and pushed for it.   it was during the time of his successor Chair Rodolfo “Rudy” Garcia and while I was still PAPP that the effort to establish it went on  high gear.  I think it is best for Sec. Yong to check with Chair Rudy who informed me yesterday that the P5 million fund came out only during a workshop with both panels conducted by the Development Academy of the Philippines and the letter request for the President to fund it  emanated from the panel, not passing my desk as PAPP.   Sec. Yong already resigned earlier and like me, perhaps was no longer privy to that.
Curiously, if that letter-request for the release of P5M  to President Arroyo was sent in 2007,  I wonder why for the next 3 years, PGMA  never approved it. But  President Aquino, at the first opportunity quickly released it. And when it drew some flack, Malacanang yesterday looked around for someone to blame, but itself. If you all notice, it has now become a habit. Malacanang even went ridiculously further by falsely claiming that I was the proponent of that P5M fund. I said it was “good spin”, but amateurish.
I wrote extensively about it in my earlier column entitled “IF I WERE THE MILF” . It can be viewed at my websites http://www.advocacymindanow.org/columns.