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Lawmaker warns MILF on Aquino gov’t’s ‘shaky’ word

/ 09:29 PM March 27, 2014

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate: Forever ban the pork barrel system. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate warned the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, on Thursday, that the Aquino administration has been shaky in keeping its word.

The signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is expected to bring harmony between the Philippine government and the secessionist group MILF, whose rebellion in the past decades had hobbled the development of Mindanao.

“The CAB’s signing comes at a time when the sincerity of the Aquino administration to honor and implement past agreements with revolutionary organizations is in question,” Zarate said in a statement.

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He said the government had disregarded the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front and the ten joint declarations with the National Democratic Front (political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army), including the 1995 Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee (Jasig), which has provided shield for rebel leaders from arrest and criminal charges during the peace talks.

“So it would be good if the MILF would be cautious and learn from the past, ” he said.

Bayan Muna has been critical of the military’s arrest of top communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, saying the two were consultants in the peace process and covered by the Jasig, and should be released.

But military and administration officials have explained that the Tiamzon couple’s arrest was legal because the CPP-NPA-NDF never submitted confirmation that the couple was covered by the Jasig. The government added that the peace talks have stalled, rendering the Jasig suspended.

Zarate said the Moro people should be more vigilant about protecting their rights.

“The celebration in Malacañang cannot just gloss over the numerous human rights violations committed against the Moro people,” he said.

He said many human rights violations, such as the displacement of civilians because of military operations, warrantless arrests of Moros suspected of being terrorists, and delayed resolution of cases involving Moro detainees, were being sidelined with the signing of the CAB.

He further said the new Bangsamoro autonomous region to be created could be vulnerable to American influence because of the presence of US troops.

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The Bangsamoro’s resources could also be exploited by foreign interests, he added.

“While a new organic law is yet to be passed by Congress, this early we have to be on the lookout for attempts to place the future of the Bangsamoro in the hands of people who will profit greedily from further liberalization of our economy and privatization of our basic services,” he said.

Meanwhile, administration ally and Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said the Bangsamoro Transition Committee should begin discussions with Congress to ensure the swift passage of the Bangsamoro basic law.

The discussions could be used to iron out issues concerning the draft basic law even before its submission to Congress for passage, he said. This way, by the time formal deliberations begin in Congress, there will be few obstacles left to hurdle, according to Baguilat.

Baguilat said that he would check if the Bangsamoro basic law would include protection of the environment and the upholding of indigenous people’s rights over their ancestral domain.

He hailed the Bangsamoro peace deal and said the country would gain much from it.

“The peace pact seeks to rectify historical injustice and addresses the roots of the rebellion in the south. If this succeeds, peace and development will not only come to Mindanao but to the entire country as well,” he said.

“Investments will come in and the rule of law will be established in this troubled region instead of the rule of the gun. Moreover, government funds used to fighting a war in Mindanao can be channeled to development efforts to other places like the Cordillera,” he added.

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Senate, House leaders agree to pass Bangsamoro law by year-end

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TAGS: Bayan Muna Party List, Benigno Aquino III, Carlos Isagani Zarate, Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, House of Representatives, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, News, Peace agreement, peace negotiations, peace process, Peace Talks, Philippine Congress, Philippine Government, Philippine president, Teodoro Baguilat
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