Escudero wants gov’t peace panel replaced
MANILA, Philippines — Members of the government panel negotiating peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) should be replaced if they could not even side with the elite policemen who perished from the Mamasapano operation, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero said on Thursday.
“Matagal ko nang sinasabi yan, hindi nila ginagawa yung kanilang trabaho at marapat at dapat palitan sila ng mga taong kayang gumanap ng kanilang trabaho,” Escudero said during a weekly forum in the Senate.
(I’ve been saying this for a long time. They’re not doing their jobs and they should be replaced by people who can do their jobs.)
“Oo nga’t nakuha nila ang kumpyansa ng MILF pero paano naman yung kumpyansa ng ating mga kababayan na dapat sana kinakatawan nila.”
(Yes, they may have gotten the trust of the MILF but what about the trust of our fellow countrymen whom they should be representing.)
“Hindi ko hinihilingin na awayin nila ang kanilang counterparts, ipakita naman nila na kakampi nila yung SAF 44, ipakita naman nila na kakampi nila yung gobyerno mismo at mga sundalo at pulis natin. Hindi yung ang galing-galing na ngang mag-negotiate ng MILF, sila pa ang magsisilbing kinatawan saan man sila magpunta, saan man sila magtungo,” he said.
(I do not wish for them to fight with their counterparts, but they should at least show that they’re siding with the SAF 44, they’re siding with the government and our own military and police. The MILF is already good at negotiating, and they still represent them wherever they go.)
SAF 44 refers to the 44 members of the Special Action Force who were killed in the Mamasapano operation.
During the Senate hearings on the incident, Escudero said he even noticed the chief government peace negotiating panel, Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, helping Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator of the MILF, answer the questions of the senators.
“Habang nagsasalita si Ginoong Iqbal, e kulang a lang bulungan ng sagot ni Ferrer si Iqbal sa mga katanungang ipinupukol sa kanya ng ibat-ibang senador. Ewan ko lang kung napansin din ninyo,” he pointed out.
(While Mr. Iqbal was talking, Ferrer was short of coaching Iqbal to answer the questions by the different senators, I don’t know if you noticed that).
But Senate President Franklin Drilon was quick to reject what he described as “unfair” accusations and calls for resignation against the members of the government peace panel, saying it “will achieve nothing and will only derail the peace process.”
“I appeal for a deeper public support and understanding of the role of the government peace panel in the realization of our goal of providing lasting and genuine peace in Mindanao, which for four decades suffered from all forms of insurgency and criminality,” Drilon said in a statement.
“While I fully understand and recognize the public’s high emotions following the Mamasapano tragedy, Secretary Teresita Deles and Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer do not deserve to be maligned in such an unwarranted manner,” he said.
He stressed that Deles, presidential adviser on the peace process, Ferrer and the rest of the government peace panel are tasked with securing peace in Mindanao, and their actions before and after the Mamasapano incident are based on their mandates.
“Let us not be too hard on those working for the preservation of the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Contrary to accusation, our peace panel is actually protecting the government and the Filipino people’s interest by protecting and continuing the peace process amid the tensions resulting from the Mamasapano clash,’ said Drilon.
“It is highly unfair and improper for people to label as traitors those striving to ensure peace in our nation, for all Filipinos,” he added.
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