MANILA, Philippines - Former presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza on Monday urged President Aquino to stay the course even if the proposed Bangsamoro region encounters heavy opposition in the future.
Speaking to ANC, Dureza said he views the framework agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with "great yet guarded optimism."
"As a a former negotiator, I would like to look at it with great optimism or guarded optimism. Let's hope that the deadline can be met and that both parties will fine-tune everything so that the deadline set will be met," he said, referring to the agreement's 2016 deadline.
Dureza said the framework agreement is different from previous deals because 2 heads of state, President Benigno Aquino III and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, witnessed its signing. "I think this augurs well for the next steps. We are not yet at the end of the road," he said.
He also said the President should follow closely the Malaysian PM's advice on the peace process.
"Let's hold on to this and no matter what, let's stay the course. Marami pa tayong dapat gawin diyan. Hindi madali especially now magkakaproblema kung may mga balakid diyan or mga dissenters who will create certain scenarios," he said.
"I think the big picture is for everybody to come around, support it and never let go," he added.
Dureza said he understands the sentiments of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari against the framework agreement since it will also affect the existing peace deal with his group.
He said the MNLF case should serve as a lesson to the Aquino administration not to vary from the final agreement. He also noted that Congress will have a big say in the final peace accord.
"Congress has its own mind. We need a lot of support from Congress to see to it that things will happen," he said.