Press Release
August 17, 2011


Senator Chiz Escudero urged the government peace panel to ensure that all stakeholders are consulted before it presents a counter-proposal to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's (MILF) call for the creation a sub-state in Mindanao.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said government negotiators should get the input of every stakeholder to avoid the pitfalls when the past administration forged the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) with the MILF. The pact was later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

"The road to peace in Mindanao is a delicate issue. Our peace panel should find the right approach which does not isolate anyone. The direct participation of local and religious leaders, representatives of tribes and clans should be solicited. Inclusivity should be one of the major bases for the talk," Escudero said.

The government peace panel said it will present its counter-proposal to the MILF when peace talks resume on August 22 in Kuala Lumpur, and major stakeholders from different areas in Mindanao have asked the government to be transparent in its dealings with the Muslim rebels.

"I join the call for transparency. I am hopeful that our panel will lay down on the table what their counter-proposal is. The President has been very clear about his instructions to the panel and that is to come up with a proposal that will be presented to the people," the senator said.

In an informal briefing at Camp Crame last week, President Benigno Aquino III said that while the prospects for a long-lasting solution to the peace problem in Mindanao is simmering, it will probably need a congressional nod to establish a sub-state being espoused by the MILF in the region.

The Chief Executive made it clear that the MILF proposal would require consultations with all the stakeholders because "this is not just a Muslim problem."

"The quest for peace settlement in Mindanao is a dream shared by every one of us. There ought to be a road map that is based on merits, inclusivity and constitutionality. We should learn from history, let us not keep on repeating the mistakes of the past," the senator explained.

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