Lobregat reminds GPNP of commitment to consult ZC PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 August 2011 14:27

Mayor Celso Lobregat yesterday wrote the chairman of the government peace negotiating panel (GPNP) reminding the latter of his commitment to consult the people of Zamboanga and Mindanao prior to the finalization and submission of the GPNP’s counter-proposal to its counterpart’s draft agreement.

Mayor Lobregat was prompted to communicate with Prof. Leonen amidst reports that the GPNP shall be submitting its position paper and or counter proposals to the draft agreement of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on August 22, 2011.

In a meeting with the mayor and members of the City Council last May 17 this year, Prof. Leonen and some of his members and other officials involved in the peace negotiations with the MILF emphasized that the present GPNP is a new panel and very different from the past panels and that it will not make the same mistakes of the previous panels.

Mayor Lobregat said it was also the assurance of the panel chair and the members that the talks, negotiations and any agreement with the MILF shall be within the framework of the 1987 Constitution and that there will be no dismemberment of the Republic, these being in consonance with the directive of President Benigno Simeon Aquino IIII. He said the panel chair likewise stated that “the negotiations shall be based on the principle of transparency and commitment to meaningful and genuine consultations with the people and the stakeholders, especially respecting the sentiments of the residents of this City

“You also assured us that the. We were also made to believe that you will be coming back to the City for future dialogues and consultations”, the mayor said in his letter sent to Prof. Leonen through electronic mail and fax message. The mayor also called the panel chief by phone to personally inform about his concern.

Mayor Lobregat stressed: “We are, therefore calling upon  your commitment that we shall be informed and consulted first before the finalization and submission of the Position paper and/ or counter-proposals of the government peace panel to the MILF”.

According to the chief executive it would be meaningless and contrary to the panel chair’s pronouncements “if the government’s draft position paper is finalized and submitted to the MILF  before the stakeholders, specifically the local government units in Mindanao are consulted”.

“We highly appreciate and anticipate your return to this City for further dialogues and consultations before the GPNP’s draft position paper and or counter-proposals are finalized and submitted to the MILF panel on August 22, 2011”, Mayor Lobregat added.

As this developed, Prof. Leonen promptly responded to the mayor’s communication through email and thanked the chief executive for the letter and assured that the panel remains true to its commitments.

“I am fully aware of my commitments and will take the request in your letter into serious consideration”, Prof. Leonen said stressing “let me inform you however that the inputs made with the City Council during our last meeting were taken into consideration in the drafting of the proposals”.

In a quickly called press briefing in City Hall late yesterday afternoon said people should remain vigilant and alert concerning the peace talks between the government and the MILF reiterating his stand that the city is for long, just and lasting peace but not for appeasement.

He said the Zamboanguenos remain firm in their stand that the peace negotiations should be within the realm of the constitution, no dismemberment and that the junked memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain should not be used as reference point of the renewed peace talks. — Sheila Covarrubias/City  Hall PIO