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Esperon: Arroyo broached federalism as early as May

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 20:01:00 08/14/2008

MANILA, Philippines — As early as May, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo broached the idea of rewriting the Constitution to allow a shift to a federal form of government to “accommodate” peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), her peace adviser said Thursday.

Arroyo made the proposal in a letter to Malaysian Prime Minister Abudllah Badawi last May 8, in which she asked about the status of the negotiations between the government and the MILF, which Malaysia is brokering, Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said.

“In effect, the President therefore was contemplating that a federal set-up of government can rightfully accommodate the MOA-AD [memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain],” Esperon told reporters in Makati City.

The MOA-AD, if signed, would pave the way for the expansion of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao into the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE). The Supreme Court has issued a temporary restraining order against the signing of the agreement.

However, Arroyo was firm that the Philippines would not grant independence to the MILF, Esperon said.

“Granting independence to [the] Bangsamoro is not and was never the intent of the GRP [Government of the Republic of the Philippines]-MILF talks,” he quoted Arroyo as telling the Malaysian premier.

Esperon said the establishment of the BJE would not be possible without amending the Charter since some provisions, including the sharing of profits from natural resources, needs such amendments.

“I don’t think so, no,” he said, when asked if the BJE could be set up without Charter change.

Esperon also shrugged off criticism that Charter change to allow the BJE’s creation is part of a plan to extend Arroyo’s term beyond 2010.

He said there would not be enough time to work out a term extension since the earliest projected time for a peace agreement with the MILF is in November 2009, six months before the May 2010 elections.

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-08-14T12:23:35+00:00UTC08bUTCThu, 14 Aug 2008 12:23:35 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm08

Posted in Uncategorized

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