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Palace cool to Charter change

Malacañang is not exactly scrambling to amend the Constitution in the face of a demand by Moro rebels for a substate as a way out of the separatist conflict in the South.

“If it’s the general idea of Charter change (Cha-cha) being pushed, we have consistently said that it is not the President’s priority,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Vate told reporters on Thursday.

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“As far as the proposals of the MILF are concerned, we would like to wait until the (government) panel sits down with them on the 22nd,” she added.

Asked if Cha-cha would still not be a priority if it hastens peace in Mindanao, Valte said, “I don’t believe we’ve spoken about that yet.”

The government panel chair, Marvic Leonen, said in a statement that the government panel would rather that the peace talks be done over the negotiating table instead of in the media.

Appearing at the House committee on appropriations hearing on the budget, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on Thursday defended President Aquino’s meeting with MILF chair Murad Ebrahim in Japan as a “good initiative” that could lead to a peace deal.

He disagreed that the meeting had “internationalized” a domestic issue.

Miriam Coronel Ferrer, a government panel member, said there was no breach of diplomacy when Mr. Aquino met with Murad in Tokyo without involving the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

No diplomatic breach

“Should all these steps have been broadcast to the public? If they were, the meeting could not have happened as smoothly as it did,” Ferrer said in a statement.

Ferrer said those alleging breach of diplomacy “are confusing their premises and distorting their conclusions.”

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She also said comparisons with past “secret meetings” between other states were “irrelevant.”

Citing a commentary written by Inquirer analyst Amando Doronila as an example of these comparisons, Ferrer said: “Sitting face-to-face in black suits on elegant chairs on a thick carpet in a foreign country does not make the meeting state-to-state.”

“There was no elevation of the MILF’s status beyond that of a domestic nonstate armed group engaged in peace talks—fellow citizens who are exploring ways and means to transform an adversarial relationship with the government into a partnership,” she said. With a report from Cynthia D. Balana

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TAGS: Charter change, government panel chair Marvic Leonen, Inquirer analyst Amando Doronila, MILF chair Murad Ebrahim, Moro rebels, separatist conflict, substate
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