'More battles still ahead over stalled govt-MILF deal'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 05 2008 10:30 PM | Updated as of Aug 06 2008 06:30 AM

North Cotabato Vice-Gov. Manny Piñol on Tuesday said the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) to bar the scheduled signing of on the Moro homeland agreement was merely an “initial victory” because there are still “tougher battles ahead.”

“This is a victory for us. But this is an initial victory in a long battle we have involve in,” he said in a fiery speech during Tuesday’s rally in North Cotabato following the SC ruling.

Piñol reiterated his strong objection to the inclusion of more than 100 barangays in his province to the proposed expansion of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Piñol said that he and his group will not hesitate to “shed blood” in defending his constituents.

“We have shed blood before.. we are not saying that we have enjoyed it.. but we are willing to make sacrifices,” said the vice-governor amid reports of series of clashes in several areas between Moro Islamic Liberation Front members and civilian volunteer organizations.

‘Give deal a chance’


Meanwhile, Guiamel Alim of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society described the supposed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) between the government and the MILF as a “confidence building measure” that will hopefully lead to finally resolve the issue of political status of the Bangsamoro.

Alim said this should be given a chance.

He, however, admitted that government cannot blame the people of Mindanao for their violent reaction over the issue of Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. He said the government should have conducted consultations and explain what is the MOA-AD all about.

"This is to convince the people that ‘this is it and that we are not selling you out to the Moro people or the MILF’. This is the best way we can do to resolve the centuries old problem in Mindanao," Alim said.

With the issuance of SC's temporary restraining order, he said the government must use the “space” to explain the advantages and disadvantages of the agreement.

"May kakulangan ang government dito. It’s their primary obligation to let the people know because they are in authority," Alim added.

Despite the controversy, Alim said he is still optimistic that the MOA will eventually be signed.

Iligan declares GRP members persona non-grata


The Iligan City council, meanwhile, declared some members of the government peace panel as personas non-grata.

Councilor Voltaire Rovira authored a resolution deploring government panel chief Rodolfo Garcia, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza, lawyers Leah Armamento, Sedfrey Candelaria and Mark Ryan Sullivan.

He said government panel members mentioned in his resolution proposed the removal of the eight barangays from Iligan without prior consultation. Because of this, Rovira said they are no longer welcome in the city.

For his part, Vice-Mayor Henry Dy said Prof. Rudy Rodil, a member of the government panel and an Iligan native, is not included in the declaration.

The city council also passed a resolution that the local government of Iligan will file a case against Garcia and all those involved in the deal.