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Home Community RP Government Updates President Arroyo Welcomes Swiss President Couchepin and Timor President Ramos-Horta and Other News
President Arroyo Welcomes Swiss President Couchepin and Timor President Ramos-Horta and Other News PDF Print E-mail
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Communities - RP Government Updates
Tuesday, 19 August 2008 22:08

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo welcomed Swiss Confederation President Pascal Couchepin and President Jose Ramos-Horta of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste in Malacañang this week.  The two state leaders were on official visits to the Philippines to conduct expanded bilateral talks with President Arroyo.

 

The visits were fruitful and led to the forging of several agreements.  East Timor signed agreements with the Philippines on education, marine and fisheries, and diplomat training and development.  The Swiss President, meanwhile, committed to continue support in many aspects of development, and agreed to strengthen cooperation on Federalism and Multiculturalism.

 

President Arroyo has reiterated her administration’s commitment to federalism to ensure long-lasting peace in Mindanao.  The President supports Senate Resolution No. 10, which seeks to convene Congress into a Constituent Assembly for the purpose of revising the Constitution to establish a federal system of government.

 

The Palace has clarified that the President is not seeking an extension of her term, contrary to what her critics are saying, and pointed out that federalism was part of her campaign platform in 2004.

 

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza further underscored the fact that the Senate Resolution supported by the President does not call for any extension of her term but is intended specifically to set up a system that will promote peace and development in Mindanao and the country as a whole.

Backed by 16 senators, the said resolution provides for 11 component federal states, among them the Bangsa Moro Federal State.  A Bangsa Moro juridical entity has been the subject of a Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).  The agreement was set to be signed on August 5 but the signing was aborted due to a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court.

 

Meanwhile, the President hailed the success of the ARMM elections, the first automated poll to be conducted in the Philippines, and which serves as a pilot test for the 2010 presidential elections.  Election automation is part of the President’s 10-point legacy agenda on socio-economic and political reforms.

 

The President also monitored the progress of other development programs.  She recently issued Executive Order (EO) 745, which allows better representation and participation of the Local Government Units (LGUs) in promoting socially responsible mining development.  More investments in mining and other sectors are expected as a result of the President’s visit to China.  

 

In addition, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board has approved about PhP2.6-billion new environment and energy projects under the Assistance Agreement between the Philippines and the United States.

 

The government expects thousands of employment opportunities to be created by the new investments and through the expansion of its microfinance, skills training and coconut intercropping programs.

 

To enhance measures to protect overseas Filipino workers, the President also issued EO 548-A, which defines in clear terms the functions of the Philippine Overseas Employment Authority (POEA) and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) in the fight against illegal recruitment and human trafficking.

 

* * * * *

 

Palace official belies ‘conspiracy theory’ as behind OSG request for deferment of hearing

Deputy Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo belied today Sen. Mar Roxas’ claim that the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) sought the deferment of the oral arguments before the Supreme Court of the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD), which the senator claims contains “several secrets.”

 

In a statement, Fajardo said the OSG had sought the deferment of the oral arguments on the MOA-AD before the High Court only to give it time to properly and effectively respond to the intervention filed by former Senate President Franklin Drilon and Roxas on the petition for preliminary injunction against the MOA-AD.

 

Fajardo was reacting to Roxas’ radio interview this morning in which he claimed that the MOA-AD has several secrets that the government would not want exposed.

 

“There are no secrets; the primary petitioners have been provided the MOA – the MOA speaks for itself,” she said.

 

However, the oral arguments in the Supreme Court proceeded this afternoon.

 

In her statement, Fajardo asserted that the OSG only sought for more time to study and prepare its response to the Drilon-Roxas action, which was made early this week.

 

“They (Drilon and Roxas) seek the permission of the Court as intervenors, raising a totally different aspect from the petition of the primary party (Mayor Lobregat and Vice Governor Pinol) who petitioned the Court to cause government to provide them a copy of the MOA for their study and future action, the same having been rendered moot and academic once the government had provided the copy to the petitioners,” Fajardo said.

 

“The Supreme Court (SC), as the highest court of the land, expects nothing less than the best from all those who come before them. The desire of the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) for a deferment of the oral arguments is borne out of its desire to properly and effectively bring its arguments before the SC,” she added.

 

She said it would be “best for all concerned to simply present their argument/s on the letter of the MOA and not make unfounded conspiracy theories to try to excite the public over matters that only exist in the minds of conspiracy theorists.”

 

The scheduled signing of the MOA-AD in Kuala Lumpur last week did not push through after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) upon the request of Zamboanga Mayor Celso Lobregat and North Cotabato Vice Governor Manny Piñol -- who had demanded that they be furnished copies of the MOA.

The palace added: “The OSG was ready to present itself to the Court on the basis of the primary petitioners’ petition. However, the OSG is presently preparing for arguments upon recognition of the High Court of the petition of Senator Roxas and former Senator Drilon as intervenors.

 

“OSG is ready to face oppositors to the MOA. The deferment is to ensure that the  arguments as presented by the intervenors are properly addressed and respectfully set aside. 

 

* * * * *

 

 

Palace determined to pursue efforts to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao

Malacañang said the government is determined to pursue efforts to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao, and that it has prepared a backup plan in case the Senate junks its Resolution No 10.

 

Authored by 16 senators, including Senate President Manuel Villar and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Resolution No. 10 calls for the convening of “Congress into a Constituent Assembly for the Purpose of Revising the Constitution to Establish a Federal System of Government.”

 

Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Gabriel Claudio disclosed the government’s backup peace plan for Mindanao at a press conference this afternoon in Malacañang.

"I think it behooves the government peace panel and everybody concerned to have a backup plan kung talagang determinado tayo to pursue the peace plan," he said.

 

"We will never ran out of avenues for peace. We will not stop, no setback is big enough to stop us from pursuing this," he added.

 

Claudio said he is not being pessimistic about what will happen in the Supreme Court, "but we have to be prepared for eventualities."

 

"As long as there is openness and goodwill and good faith on both sides, we should not be deterred by any result of the hearings or decision of the Supreme Court," he said.

He asserted that "none of us is talking about Cha-cha (Charter change) for term extension (of the President)."

 

"Di dapat (ito) ikataranta, di dapat ikapraning ng mga tao," he said.

 

"Why should we be alarmed, it is not as if we are initiating Cha-cha or proactive in Cha-cha, especially on the agenda of extension or term limit is concerned. Di galing sa amin yan, wala sa radar screen namin yan," he added.

 

Claudio said any discussion of Constitutional reform will be in the context of federalism to address issues on the MOA on ancestral domain.

 

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza, on the other hand, expressed confidence that the Senate, "when things can be qualified," will support a federal form of government if only to ensure lasting peace in troubled Mindanao.

 

"There's no way to amend the Constitution but through the Congress. I'm confident that when things can be qualified, they (senators) will support us in anything that will pave the way for lasting peace," he said.

 

"It's just a matter of time," he added.                

 

In the mean time, Dureza said there are efforts to hold a dialogue with the senators to explain to them the importance of the MOA on ancestral domain in attaining a permanent peace in Mindanao.

 

"There are efforts to pursue this (dialogue)... we like these things to settle down muna. This should wait until the SC has decided on the constitutionality of the MOA on ancestral domain," he said. 

 

* * * * *

 

Statement of Sec Dureza re Speculative Reports on Renegotiation"Let us not play around with peace. The alternative to peace is war. It is best that everyone-Christians, Muslims, Lumad, government, officials, politicians, leaders of civil society, congress, and those in the judiciary, must all treat the pending issue with sobriety and circumspection and with abiding resolve that all must contribute to install peace in the land. The issue is now with the Supreme Court. Let’s wait for its ruling and all will have to submit to it when it comes. The highest tribunal is the final arbiter. It will rise above the din and noise created by less noble considerations. The search for peace is paramount.


President Arroyo since she assumed office up to now has been focused and resolute to find a final settlement in the Mindanao conflict. When peace comes development follows. This is not only for Mindanao. We are at the threshold of a breakthrough. We are almost there. Let's not miss this rare opportunity of finding peace in the land.

 

* * * * *

 

RP, Kuwait Ink Three Agreements

The Philippines and oil-rich Kuwait sealed last night three agreements to further enhance their bilateral and trade relations, and bolster cooperation in the area of investments.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and visiting Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheik Nasser Al Mohammad Al Ahmad Al Sabah witnessed the signing of the agreements in Malacañang last night.

 

The agreements were on joint undertaking in energy projects, strengthening of health related services, and enhanced tourism investments and exchanges between the two countries.

 

The cooperation on health accord was signed by Health Undersecretary Mario Villaverde for the Philippines, and Kuwait Undersecretary of Ministry Affairs Khaled Sulaiman Alijarrallah, for Kuwait.

 

Under the agreement, the two countries would share information and expertise to improve the quality of health and health-related services in both countries.

The agreement on the joint undertaking of oil and gas projects was signed by Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes on behalf of the Philippines and Finance Minister Mustafa Jassim Alshamali, for Kuwait.

 

Under the agreement, the Philippines and Kuwait will endeavor to conduct joint projects, enhance training of technical personnel, and foster private sector cooperation agreements.

Reyes said details of the joint projects on oil and gas, including possible exploration, would be discussed later.

The agreement on tourism cooperation was signed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and Finance Minister Mustafa.

 

The accord enjoins the two countries to work toward increasing tourism exchanges and tourism investments while protecting the environment and preserving cultural heritage and traditions.

 

During the expanded bilateral meeting between President Arroyo and the Prime Minister, the latter expressed his desire to further boost commercial relations and investment cooperation between the Philippines and Kuwait.

 

“We are extending both hands to cooperate with you,” Prime Minister Nasser said, as he cited the contributions of Filipino workers to Kuwait’s development.

 

Prime Minister Nasser is the most senior Kuwaiti official to visit the Philippines.

Kuwait ranked as the Philippines’ 45th trade partner in 2007, 42nd among its export markets and 41st among its import sources.

 

The Kuwaiti leader said his country is prepared to enter into more agreements and increase investments in the Philippines, especially in the agriculture sector.

 

“We can reach a future understanding of investment in the agriculture sector since we are prepared to finance agricultural projects,” he said.

 

In her reply, President Arroyo explained that her administration has launched a program to develop one-million hectares for agribusiness projects.

 

The Kuwaiti Prime Minister also batted for an open skies agreement between the Philippines and his country, but the President said the proposal would have to be carefully studied to ensure that the interests of Filipino airline companies are protected.

She pointed out that Filipino airline operators have already lost the Middle East market to Middle EastKuwait. airlines, and they fear losing the American airlines market as well if the government enters into an open skies agreement with

 

The Kuwaiti Prime Minister also pushed for more student exchanges between the two countries with “no restrictions.”

 

He said Kuwait is ready to accept “even a million” more Filipino workers to help his country implement $50-billion worth of development projects over the next 15 years.

“We welcome you to Kuwait to be your second home. We have so many projects now on board. We ask our brothers in the Philippines to help us -- nurses, doctors, engineers, in all fields. This is what we are offering, no quota on Filipino workers going to Kuwait,” he said.

 

He said Kuwait is building a railway, container port, an entertainment city, five new cities, bridges and a host of other development projects.

The President said Kuwait hosts the third-largest Filipino community in the Middle East – about 130,000.

 

The Kuwaiti official said the private sector/business community in his country is very active in undertaking development projects and is willing to help the Philippines build more schools, bridges hospitals and other infrastructure facilities vital to economic progress.

 

In her statement before the state dinner, the President expressed elation over Kuwait’s offer to cooperate in the development of the Philippine economic sectors.

 

“We welcome Kuwait‘s interest and trust in our economy,” the President said.

PGMA underscores importance of strong RP-Kuwaiti relations

 

 President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo underscored last night the importance of Kuwait Prime Minister Sheik Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah’s visit to the Philippines in further strengthening RP-Kuwait economic, diplomatic and security relations.

 

In her message at the State Dinner she hosted for Sheik Nasser and his delegation, the President thanked the Kuwaiti government for ''your good wishes and tidings of friendship and brotherhood.”

 

She also thanked the Kuwaiti Prime Minister for the warm reception accorded to her during her one-day visit to Kuwait last December on her way back to Manila from Madrid and London.

 

The President welcomed the growing Kuwaiti investments in the country.

 

''Kuwait has started investing in the Philippines. We welcome Kuwait's interest and trust in our economy.''

 

She also expressed her gratitude for the revival of the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development, specifically for the development of Mindanao.

 

The President said that Kuwait was the first Arab country to extend development loans to the Philippines, the biggest beneficiary of the Kuwaiti assistance being the 150-kilometer highway that forms part of the circumferential road in Pagadian City, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao to Cotabato City.

 

Kuwait’s funding assistance of $20-million was released in 1998.

 

''We want to thank you for the Kuwait Fund. Thank you for reviving the Kuwaiti Fund. We are very grateful for your support there in Mindanao and because bringing development to these remote areas, where the road you built, is very important to our peace process,'' the President said.

At the same time, the President thanked the Kuwaiti government for its willingness to finance the construction of three hospital projects in Mindanao.

 

'''I asked Health Secretary Duque to give you the full blown proposals so you can proceed from that,'' she said.

 

''Your Excellency, your visit is a boost to our efforts to bring about long-lasting peace in Mindanao just as our brothers in the Philippines look forward to a long-lasting peace in the Middle East,'' the President added.

 

She admitted that there are political dynamics at work in achieving the lasting peace that has eluded Mindanao for the past four decades. She pointed out, however, that the government, together with non-government organizations who are supportive of the peace efforts, are working hard to end the strife in the troubled region.

 

''We will work to end the conflict that has claimed lives on both sides over the last four decades,'' she said.

 

The President added that creating an environment conducive to job-creation needs much-needed assistance and foreign investments. The Kuwaiti Fund is ''one of our sources of this very important assistance,” she added.

 

She thanked the Prime Minister for opening Kuwaiti’s doors to one million more Filipino overseas workers (OFWs). Kuwait hosts, 130,000 OFWs, the third largest Filipino community in the Middle East.

 

''You have been so kind to our Filipinos there,'' the President said.

 

The Kuwaiti Prime Minister has extended an invitation to the Filipinos to make Kuwait their second home.

 

The President also thanked the Kuwaiti official for the agreement forged between the Philippines and Kuwait on the repatriation of persons convicted of certain crimes.

 

She also said the Philippines is “very grateful” that Kuwait has confirmed its participation in the International Forum on Migration the Philippine government is hosting in Manila in October.

 

At the same time, the President sought Kuwait’s assistance to the Philippine efforts to attain self-sufficiency in rice within the next five years in the face of soaring food and fuel prices worldwide.

 

''We need a lot of fertilizer for our rice production and we hope we can eventually work out a country-to-country purchase of fertilizer,'' the President said.

 

In response, Sheik Nasser said the Kuwaiti government and private sector would  be willing to help the Philippine agricultural sector.

 

The President also took the opportunity to invite Kuwaiti businessmen and government to participate in the 10 projects that ''are ready to go'' or are just awaiting investors.

 

''And because you have said that the Kuwaiti business community is very active, a lot of resources are available now to Kuwait, we have 10 projects that are ready to go, so we can present this to the business community because His Highness brought with him a business delegation,'' the President said.

 

''Our private sector is very important and vital. They help the government. We have to have more joint ventures in financial and investments,'' Sheik Nasser responded.

 

The President also expressed her and the Filipino people's gratitude to the Emir who was instrumental in the commutation of jail sentences of several Filipinos in Kuwait, including Marilou Ranario, whose death sentence was commuted to life after the President sought the Emir's intervention when she visited Kuwait last December.

Kuwait-Philippines friendship is a great part of her country’s history, she said.

Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Kuwait were established almost 30 years ago on Jan. 17, 1979.

 

Last year, Kuwait ranked as the Philippines 45th trading partner, 42nd among its export markets and 41st among its import sources.

 

Among Middle East countries, Kuwait placed 6th as the Philippines trading partner in terms of total trade.

 

In January 2006, a joint oil and gas exploration venture with Kuwaiti participation was granted a Service Contract in northeast Palawan.

 

KUFPEC or Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company B.V. has a 30 percent stake in the joint venture with Shell Pilipinas Exploration B.V. and China Resources, Inc.

KUFPEC also has a 35 percent participating interest in Tanon Strait in partnership with Japex Petroleum Exploration Co. Ltd.

 

Just last April Kuwait's KGL Investment Co. signed an agreement with Clark International Airport Corporation for the development of a mixed logistics and business complex to be known as GlobalGatewayLogistics City on a 167-hectare property at the Industrial Estates.

 

* * * * *

 

Statement of Press Secretary Jesus G. Dureza 

The Bishop-Ulama Conference (BUC), an inter-faith group composed of bishops and ulamas in Mindanao, is being considered to lead civil society to see through the efforts to bring peace to Mindanao.

 

Archbishop Fernando Capalla, one of the convenors of the BUC, said that they are among its leaders and members to take on this role.

 

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had requested BUC to oversee these efforts as she gives value to a deep consultative process to hear the views of stakeholders in the private sector, the local government units (LGUs), and all those who will be affected one way or the other in what may become a framework for peace and development not only for Mindanao but the whole country as well.

 

Let’s call on everyone – politicians, civil society, the religious, Muslims, Lumads – to close ranks and support this non-partisan effort that can put us on track in our economic-development agenda for the country. 

 

* * * * *

 

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Statement Re: MILF Treacherous Attacks

New Executive Building, Malacañang

August 18, 2008

 

Mga minamahal kong kababayan:

 

Mariing kinokondena ko ang di makatarungang pag-atake at paghahasik ng karahasan ng MILF kaninang madaling araw sa ilang bayan ng Lanao del Norte.  Ito ay hindi lamang paglabag sa kasunduang pangkapayapaan kundi isang hamon sa pangkalahatang pagnanais ng sambayanan ng katahimikan at kaunlaran sa buong isla ng Mindanao.

Because of these sneaky and treacherous attacks, as your Commander-in-Chief, I have ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to defend every inch of Philippine territory against MILF forces and immediately restore peace in the affected areas in Lanao del Norte.  We will not tolerate and we will crush any attempt to disturb peace and development in Mindanao.

 

I am also calling for an emergency meeting of the National Security Council this afternoon to assess the situation in Lanao del Norte and other areas in Mindanao and come up with concrete, firm and decisive action to defend the peace-loving people of Mindanao.

 

Again, I assure the Filipino people that the government will defend them at all costs against any move by any group that will disrupt our aspirations for a genuine and lasting peace not only in Mindanao but in the whole country.  I am with you in peace.  We are all in this together.  Maraming salamat po.

* * * * *


PGMA orders assistance to Mindanao areas affected by MILF attacks

MANILA, Aug. 19 (PNA) -- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Tuesday ordered concerned government agencies to provide assistance to the people in Mindanao who were affected by the recent attacks of rogue Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members.


Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said the President has ordered Social Welfare and Development Secretary Esperanza Cabral and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to personally oversee the intervention measures in North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte provinces.


The DoH has placed its personnel in Mindanao on "white alert" for families affected by recent attacks by the MILF rebels.


Duque said he has ordered the constant monitoring of the health of evacuees, particularly in Lanao del Norte, and for the regional hospitals to be on the lookout for the outbreak of any disease.


Likewise, Dureza said the President has directed the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to rebuild structures destroyed by the fighting between government troops and the secessionist rebels.


He said President Arroyo also directed the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) to trigger the release of funds needed for the relief and rehabilitation of affected families in Mindanao.

NDCC figures show about 9,350 people had left their homes when the MILF forces attacked villages in the provinces of Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur and Sarangani.


Meanwhile, Dureza said the President thanked non-government organizations (NGOs), particularly the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), for extending humanitarian assistance to the conflict-affected areas.


"(President Arroyo) also appealed to them to continue providing humanitarian support to the affected residents," he said. (PNA)

 

* * * * *


Police commandos augment gov't troops in MindanaoMANILA, Aug. 19 (PNA) -- Battle-tested police commandos from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force are set to arrive in Mindanao anytime to augment government troops in laying a blanket of security around towns threatened by MILF renegade forces.


PNP chief Director General Avelino Razon Jr. flew to Mindanao on Tuesday to personally assess the ongoing police security operations in Northern Mindanao, and assist local government units and disaster management authorities in attending to residents displaced by the recent attacks by the MILF.


Razon said a sizable contingent of SAF troops will be deployed in strategic locations in Northern MindanaoNorth Cotabato. to prevent further incursions by MILF forces similar to the simultaneous attacks on Monday in Lanao del Norte and Sarangani, and the recent attacks in


"Our priority remains to be the security of residents in these threatened areas. We want to return them to their homes as soon as possible and restore normalcy in these areas," Razon said.


Razon is accompanied by Police Director Jefferson P Soriano, PNP Director for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM), who is supervising the investigation of the recent atrocities committed by renegade MILF forces; and Police Director Leopoldo Bataoil, PNP Director for Police Community Relations (DPCR) who is supervising PNP humanitarian assistance efforts
for displaced families in Mindanao.


In Manila, PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Nicanor A. Bartolome, citing reports from Lanao del Norte Provincial Director, Senior Superintendent Linog Bagul, said all 63 civilians who were earlier held hostage and used as human shield by the retreating MILF forces had been released in Tangkal, Lanao del Norte.


According to Bartolome, some 57,397 persons belonging to 12,367 families were displaced by the simultaneous attacks by the MILF in Lanao del Norte, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and South Cotabato. A similar number of residents in coastal towns of Misamis Occidental across Panguil Bay also evacuated to safer locations.


Ten barangays in the towns of Kauswagan, Kolambugan, Bacolod, Maigo and Linamon were displaced when MILF renegades from the 102nd Brigade under Abdullah Saber Macapaan alias Commander Bravo; and 103rd Brigade under Aleem Sulaiman Pangalian alias Commander Pangalian went on a shooting rampage in the area Monday morning until police and military troops pushed them back.


As the MILF retreated to nearby Lanao del Sur, they took several hostages and briefly occupied Barangay Lakadon and Barangay Sawir in Masiu, Lanao del Sur. The group was last seen headed further south of Lanao early Tuesday.


In a joint AFP-PNP press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo, Bartolome said 28 civilians, three military personnel, and one policeman were killed in separate incidents in Lanao over the past 48 hours. Two more civilians and an Army trooper were also wounded.


Among those killed were farmers in Kauswagan, Kolambugan and Maigo who were executed by the MILF, commuters on board private and public transportation that were fired upon, and a military convoy that was ambushed. (PNA)

 

* * * * *


PGMA to convene special expanded LEDAC meeting on Friday

MANILA, Aug. 19 (PNA) -- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will convene a special expanded Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting at 12 noon on Friday to discuss the current situation in Mindanao.


Press Secretary Jesus Dureza, in a press briefing Tuesday, said expected to attend the expanded LEDAC meeting are members of Congress, Cabinet Secretaries, representatives from the private sector, business sector, the academe, religious sector, and even from the opposition.

"The situation in Mindanao is serious enough for the President to call for (a) multi-sectoral, wide-ranging group of leaders who can advise us on this problem that is currently affecting Mindanao," he said.


One of the possible agenda of the special expanded LEDAC meeting is a "close review on a bigger scale" of the peace negotiation with the secessionist group in light of the recent atrocities in several provinces in Mindanao, he added.


In a radio interview this morning, Dureza said there was a "parallelism" in the acts committed by MILF Commander Bravo and his group when they attacked Lanao del Norte and those committed by Commander Umbra Kato in North Cotabato last week.


"What is this? Are they (the MILF) toying with us? They’re saying that they have no control over these people and now they’re denying that these are their people," he said.


On a policy level, Dureza said the government "might have to review now because if we enter into any agreement with them and then there are people who will disrupt the peace, what for is the peace agreement."


The government does not find as acceptable the MILF’s reason that the aborted memorandum of agreement (MoA) on ancestral domain was the reason for their atrocities, he said.


"If this is a pressure tactic on government, we should never allow it or if this is the kind of group that will double-speak, iba ang sinasabi sa atin at iba ang ginagawa para ma-pressure ang government, eh mukhang hindi rin maganda," he added.


Dureza said that although the government wants peace talks with MILF to succeed, "we want to know kung magkakapirmahan, kung totohanan ito o baka laro-laro lang din ito. I'd like to give the benefit of the doubt to the leadership of the MILF."

He, however, stressed the government has not changed its policy to attain lasting peace in Mindanao.

"There is no alternative but peace process towards a wider, bigger area, not only peace talks... but also development in the area," he said. (PNA)

 

Philippine Consulate General

3600 Wilshire Blvd, Ste. 500

Los Angeles, CA 90010

Tel. 213.639.0980/fax 213.639.0990

 



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Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 August 2008 22:24
 

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