Remembering 7 years ago (In defense of Zamboanga, Mindanao, the Constitution, and the Republic) PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 03 August 2015 11:02

by JUBELS  SANTOS

Congressman Celso L. Lobregat called a press conference on Sunday for local residents to recall what happened seven years ago that became part of Zamboanga City’s history.

During the press conference attended by local print, radio and television reporters, Lobregat distributed copies of the documentary video produced several years ago  entitled IN DEFENSE OF ZAMBOANGA, MINDANAO, THE CONSTITUTION AND THE REPUBLIC.

Lobregat also released to the media copies of the Dec. 2008 publication-ADELANTE ZAMBOANGA- which carried the banner story-“ MOA-AD laid to rest” and which contained several articles about the MO-AD and a chronology of events that highlighted the controversy over the MOA-AD BJE.

On August 4, 2008, thousands of people wearing red t-shirts and red ribbons gathered in front of City Hall and rallied behind the city’s chief executive, then Mayor Celso L. Lobregat, which galvanized the city’s  strong opposition to the MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT ON ANCESTRAL DOMAIN Bangsamoro Juridical Entity  or MOA-AD BJE.

The agreement was scheduled for signing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by the GRP and MILF panels on August 5,  placing  8  barangays in Zamboanga City, including Zone 3 and 4, under the territorial jurisdiction or as part of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity or BJE.

Even before the scheduled signing of the accord in Malaysia, Mayor Celso L. Lobregat met in Manila on July 30 with then Senate President Manuel Villar, North Cotabato Gov. Jesus Sacdalan, and Vice Gov. Emmanuel Piñol, Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Cruz, South Cotabato Cong. Darlene Custodio, North Cotabato Cong. Lala Talino-Santos, Zamboanga Congressmen Beng Climaco and Erbie Fabian and other Mindanao leaders.

They discussed about the proposed homeland deal.  Lobregat secured a copy of the draft MOA-AD from Gov. Sacdalan.

Mayor Lobregat, who described the MOA-AD as a “sell-out” of Mindanao to the MILF, led protesters questioning the constitutionality of the agreement, particularly the inclusion of some barangays in the city.

The Liga ng Mga Barangay, an association of barangay chairmen from the city’s 98 barangays headed by Councilor Abdurahman Nuno, unanimously approved a resolution reiterating its strong opposition to the inclusion of Zamboanga City or part of its territory and territorial waters in the BJE.

On Aug. 1, Lobregat met with multi-sectoral representatives at Garden Orchid Hotel to discuss a plan of action relative to the scheduled signing of the Accord.

For its part, the Sangguniang Panlungsod, meeting on an emergency session, approved a resolution authorizing Mayor Lobregat to undertake all necessary measures to stop the MOA-AD from being implemented.

Preparations for the filing of petition with the Supreme Court and the planned anti MOA-AD RALLY went underway.

To pursue the city’s legal action in the High Tribunal, Mayor Lobregat formed the legal team composed of Atty. Norberto Patriarca, OIC City Legal Office, Atty. Edward Fronda of CLO and private law practitioner Jose Saavedra.

Then Zamboanga City Archbishop Romulo Valles and business leaders highly commended Mayor Lobregat for his strong and exceptional leadership in the fight against the MOA-AD.  Archbishop Valles said Mayor Lobregat provided the precise leadership and worked so hard to ensure that the interest and welfare of his people are protected.

An active banker and director of the Zamboanga City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc., Teresita Sebastian cited Mayor Lobregat as “a gift to the peace-loving people of Zamboanga City” owing to his fearless and forceful stand against the city’s inclusion in the BJE.

Sebastian said “Mayor Lobregat is an epitome of a courageous and steadfast leader. She added that the Mayor knows what is good and how to lead a fight for the best interest and well being of his constituents”.

Mayor Lobregat, at one point at the height of the controversy, engaged in a heated discussion  with then Executive Secretary Jesus Dureza and GRP Panel Member Gen. Rodolfo Garcia regarding the delisting of Zones 3 and 4 from the original list of 8 barangays in Zamboanga proposed to be included in the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity.

On this day, Aug. 3,  seven  years ago, then Archbishop of Zamboanga, His Excellency Romulo Valles, issued a Pastoral Letter entitled “The People of God in the Archdiocese of Zamboanga re-Crucial Information  on recent developments on the peace process. — Jubels Santos