Celso addresses generals on Bangsamoro issue PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 June 2014 13:03

The Association of General and Flag Officers (AGFO) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) last Tuesday, July 24, invited District 1 Congressman Celso Lobregat to address the issue on the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) during its fellowship gathering in Quezon City.

Led by retired Lt.Gen. Edilberto Adan, the AGFO which is an organization with more than 700 retired and active duty individuals, has keenly followed the CAB, which is now being drafted into the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) before it is submitted to the House of Congress for deliberations and approval.

The AGFO’s invitation to Lobregat to talk about the critical issue came barely two weeks after the international community also sought out Lobregat to brief ambassadors and other foreign dignitaries in a roundtable discussion on issues relative to the framework agreement on the Bangsamoro.

Gen. Alexander B. Yano, former Chief of Staff, who was one of the attendees, said that Lobregat’s presentation was a “very impressive and well researched presentation.  Point by point discussion on key points was appreciated by AGFO members.” He further stated that, “most of them had served in Mindanao during the height of the MNLF/MILF rebellion.” Making it “nostalgic and emotional for them.”

Former Southcom Commander and former Commanding General of the Philippine Army, Gen. Generoso Senga very much appreciated Lobregat’s presentation as he said, “Hinimay na ni congressman ang mga issues at ngayon mas madali nang intindihin.”

Rep. Lobregat was introduced as the Guest of Honor and Speaker by Lt.Gen. Adan, who mentioned that many of the members may already know Rep. Lobregat from their times in service during the 90’s while Rep. Lobregat’s late mother Maria Clara L. Lobregat was serving as Congresswoman then later on as the Mayor of Zamboanga City or during their official visits while Rep. Celso L. Lobregat served Congressman from 1998-2004 or as Mayor of Zamboanga City for 3 terms, 9 years, between 2004-2013.

Rep. Lobregat opened his speech thanking Gen. Adan and AGFO for giving him the honor of speaking to a very influential and patriotic group of Filipinos. He also stated that without the Draft Basic Law the “meat” or the substance of the agreement is still the FAB and its annexes and addendum.

Lobregat’s presentation touched upon a number of issues that were taken very seriously by the generals. Among the points discussed include the role of congress in the Bangsamoro, the issue on territory and plebiscite, sovereignty and national integrity.  Lobregat also touched on the constitution and the constitutionality of the Framework Agreement which has also been questioned by legal luminaries such as Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, Retired CA Justice Mario Guariña III and Retired Supreme Court Justice Manuel Lazaro, Chairman of the Philippine Constitutional Association (PHILCONSA).

Lobregat further discussed how the Bangsamoro Agreement may worsen the already difficult power situation in Mindanao. Also discussed was the  repeated recognition of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) in the Annex on Normalization which raises red flags on the Agreement.

In the open forum, Lobregat’s presentation was given praise as a well researched and in-depth report by the generals.

According Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena who led the open forum, Lobregat addressed the issue  “not only as a representative of his district but as a representative for our country.”

Brig. Gen. Rosalino A. Alquiza, AFP (Ret), AGFO Director, thanked Lobregat for his presentation and said that the AGFO should abide by its pledge of dedicating themselves “to the preservation of the Republic of the Philippines, so that justice, liberty and democracy shall always prevail in our land.” He then motioned that the AGFO come up with a position paper on the matter.

Adan responded that Lobregat’s presentation and inputs during the forum would be of great help in coming up with AGFO’s position paper on the Bangsamoro.

Many of the attendees asked for copies of the presentation, including Gen. Yano, who said that it would serve as a “reference for our own advocacy on the issue on the Bangsamoro.”

The AGFO is an organization with more than 700 retired and active duty individuals whose interests include the preservation of the Republic, the welfare of it’s people and the promotion of the well being of the retirees and veterans of the uniformed services. — Jubels C. Santos