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Esperon demands apology from Piñol

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‘I can’t order military anymore’

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:13:00 08/07/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon Jr. on Thursday demanded an apology from North Cotabato Vice Governor Emmanuel Piñol, maintaining he did not tell the local official that the military would not come to the province’s aid if it comes under attacks.

“I am not apologizing, in fact I want him [Piñol] to apologize [to me],” Esperon said at a news conference in Camp Crame.

“I am no longer in the active service. I could not give that order [for the military not to assist North Cotabato],” said Esperon, who was chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines before he was named presidential peace adviser in mid-June.

Piñol claimed Esperon threatened, during a recent phone conversation, that the military would not protect his province from attacks by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after provincial officials asked the Supreme Court to stop the signing of a memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain between the government and the rebels.

The MoA would pave the way for the expansion of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) into the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) and the resumption of formal peace talks.

On Monday, the high court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO), a day before the MoA was scheduled to be signed on Kuala Lumpur.

Esperon made no mention of the alleged phone conversation with Piñol.

He did say he and the vice governor talked on July 14 on the sidelines of a Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) meeting, during which Piñol disclosed his plan to seek a TRO against the MoA from the high court.

“Nevertheless, I told him that it’s okay with me if he files a petition for TRO because that’s his right. But I cautioned him about the possible repercussions [of the TRO] on the peace process,” Esperon said.

Also on Thursday, Esperon said he is releasing copies of the draft MoA on ancestral domain to both chambers of Congress.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-08-07T09:40:32+00:00UTC08bUTCThu, 07 Aug 2008 09:40:32 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

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