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Home Columns Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Gov’t Urged to Make Federalism the Basic Framework for Talks with MILF
Gov’t Urged to Make Federalism the Basic Framework for Talks with MILF PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - This Week With Nene Pimentel
Thursday, 16 October 2008 15:57

S enate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today urged the Arroyo government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to exert mutual efforts to restart the peace talks and make the establishment of the BangsaMoro Federal State within a federalized Philippines as the basic framework of the negotiation.


After the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) was repudiated by the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional, Senator Pimentel said a long and indefinite hiatus in the peace process should be avoided to prevent the escalation of hostilities in Mindanao.

 

He said the government showed a correct attitude by declaring that it would no longer ask the high tribunal to reconsider its adverse decision on the issue.  On the other hand, he said the MILF has indicated its willingness to pursue the peace negotiation by assuring that it will not launch an offensive over the repudiated accord on ancestral domain.

 

Senator Pimentel said it is also reassuring to hear the government say that the ongoing military-police operations against rogue MILF elements which had attacked defenseless civilian communities should not hinder attempts to revive the peace talks.

 

“Since both sides remain committed to the peace process, they should seize the initiative to go back to the negotiating table as soon as possible instead of adopting a wait-and-see attitude,” he said.

 

The senator from Mindanao called on the MILF leadership to scrap its announced plan to bring the issue of the already-scrapped agreement on ancestral domain to the international community which, he said, would be like treading a road that will lead to nowhere.

 

Senator Pimentel urged the government to formally offer the alternative federalism proposal to the MILF in view of its declaration that it will not try to resurrect the flawed agreement on ancestral domain.

 

“If there is a logical course of action that the government should take, it is to make the establishment of a BangsaMoro Federal State as part of a federalized Philippines the prime agenda for future negotiations,” the senator from Mindanao said.

 

“The federalism proposal will address the long-time aspiration of our Muslim brothers and sisters for a homeland where they will enjoy full autonomy and lead a way of life according to their Islamic faith and preserve their distinct cultural identity," Mr. Pimentel said.

Senator Pimentel said it is a fact that the founder of the MILF, the late Chairman Hashim, Salamat and his successor, Chairman Ebrahim Murad, as well as other leaders of the rebel group, have expressed their preference for the federalism idea.

 

He said the federalism proposal should be pursued forcefully by the government, instead of tinkering with the so-called “disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation” or DDR scheme which has been rejected by the MILF.

 

Senator Pimentel said that while the DDR approach may have worked in Europe, it may not be practical to use it in resolving the country’s Muslim insurgency problem because the MILF will not agree to disarm themselves and demobilize its troops before resuming the peace talks.

 

He cited the statement of MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar that disarmament and demobilization should be taken as the “last item” in the peace talks.

 

Senator Pimentel emphasized that what the government should do is to maintain the existing ceasefire agreement. # # #



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Last Updated on Thursday, 16 October 2008 15:59
 

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