After delivering speech on MILF: Celso retorts solons in interpellation PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 27 January 2014 13:09

With his wide knowledge on peace negotiations with secessionist groups, District 1 Representative Celso Lobregat daringly answered questions of fellow members in the House of Representatives after delivering his speech on the issue of the MILF establishing political office and cooperative in Cawit recently.

Entitled “Peace be with You and Please Leave us in peace”, Lobregat’s speech in Congress was an offshoot of the establishment of the supposed Bangsamoro political office and cooperative amid the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Lobregat was interpellated by Representatives Pangalian Balindong of the 2nd District of Lanao del Sur, Roy Seneres of the OFW family Partylist, Jesus Sacdalan of North Cotabato, Zaid Mangudadatu of Maguindanao, Gustavo Tambunting of Paranaque, Jonathan de la Cruz of Abakada-Guro Partylist and Habib Tupay Loong of the 1st District of Sulu.

The interpellation on Lobregat’s speech touched on various issues ranging from the possibility of Zamboanga being included in the Bangsamoro entity despite its stand for non-inclusion; the disconnect between the MILF central committee and the realities on the ground; lack of consultation on the people of Zamboanga and the other areas affected by the peace talks; the government’s failure to include the MNLF and the BIFF in the peace process; the declaration of the MOA-AD-BJE by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional in 2008 and the impending approval of the Framework of Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the annex on normalization affixed by the negotiation parties last January 22, among others.

Lobregat emphasized for the nth time that Zamboanga City is for a long, just and lasting peace in Mindanao but that “Zamboanga City has already spoken twice when its people voted overwhelmingly not to be part of the ARMM in 1989 and 2001. The City of Zamboanga and its people have already suffered more than enough during the Cabatangan siege in November 27, 2001 and the Zamboanga Crisis starting last September 9, 2013.”

He said the OPAPP and the government peace panel need to conduct a  “true and genuine consultations prior to the signing of what remains in the peace agreement and not just to inform the stakeholders after the agreements have been signed”.

He said while the negotiating panels are finalizing the annexes in the FAB, “there are provisions in the FAB and in the annexes that if they are not corrected, will be very hard to implement”. He cited specifically the provision which says: “all toehr contiguous areas where there is a resolution of the local government unit or a petition of at least ten percent of the qualified voters in the area asking for their inclusion at least two months prior xxx.”

He also mentioned about another provision which says “areas which are contiguous and outside the core territory where there are substantial populations of the bangsamoro may opt anytime to be part of the territory  xxx.”

“First of all, what is the definition of the 10 percent? Is it the 10 percent of the entire city of Zamboanga?”, the District I solon said during interpellation with Cong. Mangudadatu.  He stressed that based on Republic Act 9054, the basic law of the ARMM, any provisions or changes cannot be made without conforming to the already existing constitution and this is specified in the provision which says: “consistent with the provisions of the Constitution, the Organic Act may be reammended or revised by the Congress of the Phiippines upon a vote of two-thirds (2/3)  xxx.”

Lobregat also retorted on the interpellation of Sulu Cong. Loong who said there is a possibility that Zamboanguenos have already changed their stand on inclusion  in the ARMM considering that the plebiscites where the people voted a resounding no was conducted in 1989 and 2001 yet.

Loong said there is “nothing wrong for the government to ask the people of Zamboanga manytimes, to give the people the chance to talk. I think Mr. Speaker, your honor, if we are going to say that Zamboanga City should not be included, to me, with due respect, that is undemocratic.”

To this Lobregat answered: “yes, Mr. Speaker, but why is it that every time you ask the provinces outside whether they want to join? Why don’t you also ask those that are already inside, do you want to remain? What is good for the goose is good for the gander. So if your position is to ask Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte and provinces of North Cotabato, Iligan if they want to join, you should also ask the provinces inside the ARMM, do you want to be part of the Bangsamoro?”

Lobregat’s speech last week was prompted by the report that the MILF has set up a political office and a cooperative in Cawit, an issue, which he said cropped up barely  a few months after MNLF forces loyal to Nur Misuari  disturbed the peace in Zamboanga last September 9 causing lives and destruction to properties.

“The memories, or better said, the nightmares are still vivid. The wounds are fresh and just starting to heal and the scars have not yet even been formed. But yet again, Zamboanga City is now being threatened and disturbed—this time by the MILF,” Lobregat during his speech said showing on power point presentation evidences of the MILF activities in Cawit. — Rey Carbonel