Lobregat laments delays in consultations on peace talks PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 18 February 2012 14:07

Mayor Celso Lobregat the other day lamented the government panel’s delay in the conduct of consultations with Zamboangueños and other stakeholders in Mindanao relative to the ongoing peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

This, as the government chief negotiator Marvic Leonen declared that the peace process has moved forward at the end of the 25th formal exploratory talks in Malaysia February 15. He likewise expressed optimism that the “government will meet its timeline to ink an agreement with the Moro group this year”.

The next round of formal talks is scheduled next month.

Mayor Celso Lobregat emphasized that the government peace panel should honor its commitment to come back to Zamboanga and consult with the residents.

“I have been told by Chairman Leonen that they will be coming here last September but it is now February,” he lamented stressing “Chairman Leonen please consult with us”.

Regional Development Council (RDC) chair and Dipolog City Mayor Evelyn Uy during the RPOC-9 meeting with Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo as guest, suggested that the RDC and RPOC in Western Mindanao be made a part in the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) so that the people in the area would know the progress of the talks.

Secretary Robredo expressed agreement to the proposal to make the RDC and RPOC part of the stakeholders in the negotiations and stressed that while it is the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) that has the final say on the issue, he will fully support the idea and that the involvement of the two Councils should not only be in terms of being informed of the progress in the talks but also being consulted on the next steps in the negotiation.

“Hopefully, we will be able to work with OPAPP on this, as much as there will be security implications in so far as Zamboanga Peninsula is concerned once this agreement is finalized”, the DILG chief said hoping also that enough consultations shall have been done before the agreement is finalized to prevent the mistakes of the past.

Lobregat said he agrees with Sec. Robredo that the government panel should not only involve the RDC and the RPOCs in Mindanao but also all other sectors and stakeholders in its negotiations.

“Before they proceed (to the next phase of the negotiation), they should be true to their words to come back and consult”, he added in an interview after the Feb. 15 RPOC maiden meeting.

Atty. Leonen has assured Mayor Lobregat during an executive session with local officials in City Hall last May 17 that his group will schedule public consultations in the city in a bid to come up with an mutually acceptable proposed agreement. 

On August 17, the mayor wrote the government panel chief reminding him of his commitment, to which chairman Leonen promised to come to Zamboanga sometime September.

Lobregat has time and again said that “true, genuine and meaningful public consultations not only with local government officials but with all stakeholders and sectors of the society are crucial foundations for any peace process”.

“The peace panel said it is a new panel; it is unlike the previous panel; the members want to learn from past mistakes and that they said they will adhere to our call for more consultations,” the mayor said in previous interviews. — Sheila Covarrubias