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PIA Press Release
2008/08/05

Charter will not be violated in proposed memo of agreement with MILF, says Dureza

Manila (5 August) -- Press Secretary Jesus G. Dureza brushed aside charges that the Arroyo administration would be violating the Constitution if it enters into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on the contentious issue of ancestral domain in the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity.

The signing of the MOA is set today in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital.

"We will not short-circuit legal and Constitutional processes," assured Dureza, a lawyer, during a press briefing yesterday afternoon in Malacanang.

Dureza was reacting to a news story quoting former Senate President Franklin Drilon as saying that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo could be impeached if the government signs the controversial MOA.

"I ask him (Drilon) to read the contents of the agreement. I am sure his conclusion will be otherwise," he said.

The text of the proposed MOA was published in Manila dailies this morning.

A member of the government's negotiating panel with the MILF from 2001 to 2003, before his appointment as Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process from 2003 to June 15, 2008, Dureza said the Arroyo administration has been "very careful about (not violating) the Constitution."

He stressed that the signing of the MOA is, in fact, a triumph for government because "by agreeing to the MOA provisions, the MILF now agree to submit themselves to our legal processes."

"Read the fine point of the MOA and look at the nuancing," Dureza said, as he branded as totally baseless speculations that the government would be ceding sovereignty over parts of Mindanao to the MILF if it signs the MOA on the contentious issue of ancestral domain.

The Palace official explained that the MOA is not an "end all" document as it will still go through several processes, including the approval of Congress.

Even if the agreement passes muster in Congress it would still be submitted to the people in the territory of the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity for approval in a plebiscite.

The "result of the MILF agreement would be downloaded to Congress where it will go through the legislative process," Dureza, a former Davao City congressman, said.

He pointed out that a peace agreement with the MILF consists of three aspects - the security aspect (ceasefire), the development aspect that has brought foreign international agencies, including the World Bank, to Muslim Mindanao to finance pilot development projects, and now, the ancestral-domain aspect. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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