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Palace silent on Esperon claim Arroyo knew of MOA-AD

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 17:11:00 09/16/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang would not comment Tuesday on Presidential peace adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.’s statement that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was privy to the details of a botched memorandum of agreement between government negotiators and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“I’ll go back to my statement that it’s [memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain or MOA-AD] being talked about in the Supreme Court. We respect the Supreme Court, the institution, whatever they are discussing,” deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez said.

He declined further comment.

The Supreme Court is hearing a petition by local government units and other quarters questioning the constitutionality of the MOA-AD that would have paved the way for the expansion of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) into the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity.

Early last month, the high court issued a temporary restraining order against the signing of the MOA-AD.

In the course of the hearing of the petition against the MOA-AD, government lawyers have said Arroyo did not know of the contents of the agreement. Malacañag has since backed out of the agreement.

However, at the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Esperon said the peace negotiations with the MILF involved consultations with the Cabinet and guidance from the “top leadership.”

“Any product of negotiation [is] always submitted to the President for further executive action or for further guidance to the negotiating panel,” Esperon told reporters.

Asked if Arroyo had seen the MOA, Esperon replied: “Yes, of course, the President knows what the panel has been going through.”

While he clarified that she had not seen it “in its entirety,” Esperon maintained that the government peace panel took guidance from “top leadership.”

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-09-16T11:58:37+00:00UTC09bUTCTue, 16 Sep 2008 11:58:37 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am09

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