Gov’t has no plan to amend Charter, says negotiator
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The government has no immediate plans to move for constitutional amendments to allow the creation of new territorial entities, the chief of the government panel in the talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said here Thursday.
“Charter change at present is not a priority,” Marvic Leonen said at a forum attended by peace advocates at the Bishops-Ulama Conference office here.
This was the same reason, he said, why the government’s draft agreement did not contain provisions on Charter change.
“I hope you understand why the government is taking that position,” he said, adding that the government “wants to deliver something that is already there (in the Constitution).”
“Our offer is autonomy in brackets,” he said.
Leonen said that the autonomy the government was offering in its draft was different from the autonomy previously granted the Moro people. In fact, he said, the government’s offer “may even sound like the sub-state the MILF wants.”
“For all we know, we may only be arguing over the label, look into its contents,” he said in an earlier talk with reporters.
Leonen said the government was also reiterating its offer to partner with the MILF in carrying out socio-economic projects in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao even before the peace agreement is signed.
“If we have a joint coordinating committee for the cessation of hostilities, why can’t we have a joint coordinating committee for development?” he said.
In Pagadian City, Edwin Capili, Mindanao vice chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the government and MILF peace panels can restart the discussions using the failed memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (Moa-Ad) as basis.
“Start the negotiations based on the Moa-Ad. It should also be discussed why it became not acceptable [to many sectors]. It would be a step toward the right direction. At least there is some starting point for negotiations,” Capili said.
He said transparency was also important because “everyone can contribute.”
“We can address the issues because there are some parts of the Moa-Ad that is alright. The problem was the process it was crafted through,” Capili said.
With a report from Julie S. Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao