Escudero: Mindanao peace urgent but things must be done right
MANILA, Philippines – A new organic law meant to conform with the framework agreement on the Bangsamoro should be crafted quite carefully despite its urgency, an ally of President Benigno Aquino III told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Saturday.
Senator Francis Escudero made the comment in the wake of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s expression of frustration over the slowness of the government in moving forward following the last round of talks last April.
The MILF also indicated its displeasure over the changes the government panel was proposing in the wealth-sharing provisions that the two panels had earlier negotiated as part of the annexes to the so-called framework agreement, the blueprint for the final peace deal.
“I’m confident that everything will be all right; part of growing-up pains and confidence-building between the two sides,” Escudero said in a text message. “There are a lot of us who will work towards achieving peace in our country.”
Asked if Congress was under pressure to pass amendments to the organic law creating the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Escudero said it was important that the new ARMM charter be responsive to the needs of all stakeholders.
“What’s more important is we pass a meaningful law that addresses the concerns of both sides and, more importantly, achieves peace,” Escudero said. “It is an urgent matter but it also has to be done right this time around.”
Senator Franklin Drilon, widely believed to be the next Senate president, said in an earlier interview that an organic law on the proposed Bangsamoro was among the priorities of the next Congress.
“One, we have to amend the charter of the ARMM to conform with the (Bangsamoro) framework agreement. How the framework agreement will come up with the annexes, we still do not know,” Drilon said on television. “How easy, how tough it would be for the Senate to conform to the agreement, nobody knows.”