Lobregat seeks clarification on GPH-MILF framework pact PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 October 2012 14:11

Mayor Celso Lobregat yesterday said various provisions of the framework agreement on the Bangsamoro, a new autonomous political entity agreed upon by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) need to be clarified and even amended if need be.

Lobregat went over the framework agreement, downloaded on line, and initially observed the inclusion of some contentious issues specifically on the provision about ‘territory’.

While Zamboanga City is not included in the list of cities that will form the core territory of the Bangsamoro, the agreement provides that contiguous areas may and can be included through a resolution of the local government unit or a petition of at least 10% of the qualified voters in the area, according to Lobregat.

The particular provision that Lobregat was referring to says: “The core territory of the Bangsamoro shall be composed of: (a) the present geographical area of the ARMM; (b) the Municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in the province of Lanao del Norte and all other barangays in the Municipalities of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleosan, Pigkawayan, Pikit, and Midsayap that voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite; (c) the cities of Cotabato and Isabela;  and (d) all other contiguous areas where there is a resolution of the local government unit or a petition of at least ten percent (10%) of the qualified voters in the area asking for their inclusion at least two months prior to the conduct of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the process of delimitation of the Bangsamoro as mentioned in the next paragraph”.

Lobregat lamented that even though Zamboanga City is not specifically mentioned in the agreement, there are provisions that will affect non-Bangsamoro areas. “Forever there will be a sword of Damocles. If 10% opt to be part—then there will be plebiscite and then another plebiscite, this is endless”.

He likewise expressed concern over other provisions such as the inclusion of other areas such as some barangays, which he said would mean carving out cities and provinces. “Also don’t people of Isabela City and Cotabato City have the right to choose anymore?”.

“I have not yet gone through the entire framework but then again you will agree with me that these are questions that need to be clarified and consulted”, the mayor said.

The mayor said he will definitely bring up the matter to the government peace panel through various ways which include meetings, formal communications and other means.

“There are certain provisions that are of concern and need to be addressed and clarified and I hope that whatever is contained in this agreement is not final”, the mayor said stressing “if it is final then there is no need to consult”. He hoped that there will be meaningful discussions to take place in the days to come.

Last Sunday President Aquino announced the establishment of a new autonomous political entity named “Bangsamoro” based on a framework agreement that the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was said to have forged in Malaysia recently.

But even before the president’s pronouncement, Lobregat as early as October 4 wrote GRP peace panel chief Marvic Leonen stating that it has always been the position of the city government that the talks should be transparent and that before any agreement is initialled signed or agreed upon, the stakeholders especially the LGUs should be consulted and any consultation done after the fact will be meaningless.

The mayor was prompted to write Leonen in view of a banner news item in one national daily entitled “Gov’t, MILF nearing peace pact” stating among others that “the two sides are closing in on a framework agreement, outlining the steps, or roadmap, to finalize a peace pact”. The same story anticipated the signing of the deal within the week if the four-day talks (Oct. 2-5) and extended two days more in Malaysia were successful.

“We are very concerned about these recent developments. As we have conveyed to you (and the GPNP) in our meetings in Zamboanga City and through several letters, it has always been the consistent position of the City that the peace process should be transparent and meaningfully and genuinely consultative with the people, the local government units and the stakeholders, especially respecting the sentiments of the residents of this City, before any agreement is to be entered into between the GPNP and the MILF”, the mayor said in his letter stressing to Leoneon “that was your commitment”.

During the flag raising ceremony for city government workers yesterday morning, Lobregat asked city employees “I ask all of you to also be very, very involved,  follow each and every step of the way because this is a very, very important phase in the history not only of Zamboang, the provinces and cities of Mindanao but the entire country”. — Sheila Covarrubias