Celso urges folks to be vigliant on GPH-MILF peace talks dev’t PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 18 August 2011 13:43

Zamboanga City residents should always remain vigilant or watchful of developments in the renewed peace negotiations between the government peace panel and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) set to start on August 22 in Malasysia.

Mayor Celso Lobregat issued this call even as the Government Panel Negotiating Peace (GPNP) chairman Prof. Marvic Leonen assured that the government remains true to its commitment to respect the sentiments and views of the Zamboangueños and people from other parts of Mindanao in presenting its proposal/counter-proposal to the MILF.

“I don’t want to be an alarmist, but we have to be vigilant, and this is part of being vigilant,” the mayor said referring to a letter he wrote to Prof. Leonen August 15 reminding the GPNP of its 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.

In a press briefing Monday afternoon, Mayor Lobregat said it was the commitment of the GPNP chair Leonen during a preliminary consultation with local officials last May 17, 2011 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”.

In his letter to Prof. Leonen, sent and received through fax and electronic mail, the chief executive reminded the GPNP chair of his commitment. “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”.

Prof. Leonen has promptly responded the mayor’s letter the same hour it was received and assured that he is fully aware of his commitments and that he will take the requests of the mayor into serious consideration. “Let me inform you however that the inputs you made with the City Council during our last meeting were taken into consideration in the drafting of the proposals. Please be assured that we remain true to our commitments”.

Mayor Lobregat said people should be on guard, as the talks resume on August 22 stressing that coming up with drastic moves as this point in time would not be a healthy sign.

“He (Prof. Leonen) is fully aware of his commitment. This is just the beginning of the resumption of the peace talks, when they (government panel) submit the position paper, that is when they start negotiation”, the mayor said.

In negotiations, he said, both panels would try to reach the difference or gap of the positions of both the government and the MILF. “The MILF has its position, we cannot control and dictate what they should ask for. But what we are saying is that (the government) should make sure that its initial position is a position that the (government) panel will not have to retract or backtrack in the future”.

On the other hand, the mayor said, Zamboangueños will support the position of the government as long as it is within the realm of the Constitution, there will be no dismemberment of the Republic and not use the junked Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) as reference or take off point.
Other provisions in the government’s position in the talks should also be looked into, he said. — Sheila Covarrubias