Celso vows renewed fight against Zambo’s inclusion in new ARMM PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 November 2013 11:27

District 1 Congressman Celso Lobregat has vowed to continue THE fight against Zamboanga City’s inclusion into a newly-conceptualized Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), especially, when such issue reaches Congress, which would deliberate on the passage of its organic act.

Lobregat was reacting to government peace panel (GRP) chief negotiator Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer’s statement, that there is a provision in the newly-proposed ARMM law, which allows barangays or municipalities to be part of the new ARMM, even if their respective city or provincial governments are not.

Ferrer said that these interested barangays or municipalities would only have to petition the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), for them to be included in a plebiscite, which would be scheduled prior to the full implementation of the new ARMM law.

Ferrer, along with some other GRP members, met city officials led by Mayor Beng Climaco last Tuesday to update them on the progress of the peace negotiation between GRP and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which are both set to ink a new agreement before President Aquino’s term ends in 2016.

Ferrer explained that any barangay or municipality of a city or province outside of ARMM, that wishes to be part of the new autonomous region would just have to secure the signatures of 10 per cent of its total voting population, and they can already be qualified to participate in a scheduled referendum, a prelude to the implementation of the new ARMM law.

However, Lobregat cautioned GRP that such provision violates the Local Government Code.

“When you create a province or a city, there is a plebiscite, and you do not hold a plebiscite or referendum for barangays only, without the whole city or province participating in it. That is what the local government code requires. Therefore, by conducting plebiscite in a few barangays interested to be part of ARMM is a clear violation of this code,” Lobregat explained during an interview with RPN’s ‘Zamboanga, Tiempo Ya!’ radio program.

The 1st district lawmaker also expressed surprise why such a provision now exists in the newly-proposed ARMM law, “while nothing of its sort ever enshrined, at the time when I, along with some other concerned government officials were actively fighting for our respective cities and provinces’ exclusion from ARMM”.

The three-term mayor, now district 1 representative reiterated that “once this proposed law will be presented for amendment or repeal in congress, I will have all reasons to be watchful of it as it is not compliant of the general intention of the local government code”.

Meanwhile, Lobregat lauded the GRP’s announcement that it will now include the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), along with the present ARMM officialdom in its ongoing peace talks with the MILF.

This, after some 400 MNLF rebels loyal to Nur Misuari stormed Zamboanga City last September 9, that resulted to hundreds of casualties, in both the MNLF and government sides, including civilians, and the burning of more than 10,000 houses in five affected barangays. — Philip Abuy