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Archive for August 6th, 2008

Palace rejects MILF claim MOA a ‘done deal’

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Only ‘meeting of minds’–Esperon

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez and Joel Guinto
First Posted 12:09:00 08/06/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) should go slow in claiming that the memorandum of agreement (MOA) on ancestral domain that they had initialed with the government was a “done deal,” two senior Palace officials said Wednesday.

The Supreme Court has stopped the government from signing the MOA following objections by officials in North Cotabato and Zamboanga City over their inclusion in a proposed Moro homeland without consultations.

Executive Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Eduardo Ermita said the accord could not yet be implemented until a comprehensive compact agreement would be signed and an enabling law would be passed by Congress.

In an interview with ANC television, presidential peace adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who is in Malaysia, said the initials of Philippine government and MILF officials on the MOA was only meant to ensure that the document would not be changed before it is signed.

“It’s not a done deal as far as we are concerned, but indeed, we have a meeting of the minds,” Esperon said. He was among the government officials supposed to attend the aborted signing of the MOA on Tuesday.

The initialing by the government of the MOA does not make the accord binding in the absence of the final agreement, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Sergio Apostol said.

Apostol said representatives of both the government and MILF panels have initialed the MOA to show that they both agreed on the provisions in the accord.

The MOA will be used for further discussions leading to the final agreement, he added.

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chair for political affairs, had said that the MOA became binding when it was initialed by the two sides on July 27 and Tuesday’s aborted ceremony in Malaysia was merely a formality.

“Our official position is that the agreement on ancestral domain has been signed, so it’s a done deal,” he said in a report.

But Ermita countered that it could not be implemented yet because it was not yet the final agreement. The MOA on ancestral domain, he said, was just among the major issues, which also included security and economic agreements, which will comprise the comprehensive compact agreement between the government and the MILF.

“Not until then can anything be implemented. Sa katunayan, kahit mapirmahan iyong comprehensive compact agreement ay kinakailangan ang mag-usap [In fact, even if the comprehensive compact agreement is signed, there is still a need to talk],” he added.

Ermita cited the agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front signed in 1996. He said that after the accord was signed, Congress had passed Republic Act 9054 before it could be implemented.

“Hindi nangangahulugan na kung sakali nagkapirmahan ng MOA on ancestral domain ay iyan na ang kasunduan [It doesn’t mean that if the MOA on ancestral domain is signed, that is the agreement],” Ermita said.

“The MOA on ancestral domain was just one of three major agenda items, with each agenda hoping to strengthen the final agreement… there is still a need to send it to Congress for a new law that will effectively implement it,” he said in Filipino.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-08-06T09:34:55+00:00+00:0008b+00:00Wed, 06 Aug 2008 09:34:55 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

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Arroyo orders military to be ‘vigilant’ in Mindanao

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 11:54:00 08/06/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to be “vigilant” amid developments in peace negotiations between the government and the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), AFP Chief Alexander Yano said.

At the same time, Yano rejected reports that the military was not going to defend North Cotabato province from MILF attacks since local officials there were against a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that would define the ancestral domain or homeland of the MILF.

“We have clear instructions from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to be vigilant amid recent developments,” Yano said in a statement Wednesday.

“We are likewise directed to take appropriate actions, while upholding the primacy of the peace process, to protect the citizens from harm by lawless elements [that] disrupt peace,” he added.

North Cotabato Governor Emmanuel Piñol was quoted as saying in news reports that Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon Jr. had told him that military forces in his province had been “restrained” because he was against the MOA.

“There is no policy restraining the military organization to defend the Filipino people from any threat regardless of his creed, political belief, and ideological position,” the military chief said.

“We assure our brothers in North Cotabato, and all our countrymen that your Armed Forces is capable and aptly equipped to address the threats besetting them,” he added.

The Supreme Court issued on Monday a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the MOA between the government and the MILF, a day before the agreement was to be signed.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-08-06T09:32:08+00:00+00:0008b+00:00Wed, 06 Aug 2008 09:32:08 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

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