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PIA Press Release

Palace welcomes Supreme Court order stopping signing of gov't-MILF accord

Manila (5 August) -- "We submit to the sound discretion of the Supreme Court."

This was Malacanang's reaction to the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court this afternoon stopping the signing today (Aug. 5) of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) on ancestral domain between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"The signing set for Tuesday will not take place. On the positive note, the TRO will provide opportunity for everyone now to dispassionately and objectively view and examine the draft MOA," Press Secretary Jesus G. Dureza said in a statement shortly after the High Court issued the TRO.

The ancestral domain issue is the third and last "aspect" of the peace agreement that the Philippine government and the MILF hope to forge to achieve a lasting and sustainable peace in Mindanao.

Dureza welcomed the legal challenge to the proposed accord, saying instead of weakening the document, a constitutional test would strengthen the agreement.

He said that "some sectors may view this (TRO) as a delay in the timetable of the peace process," noting that "Mindanao has waited for so long for this historic breakthrough on the efforts to bring peace."

"A little delay will not matter if, ultimately, we achieve what every Mindanaoan has long been dreaming of," added Dureza, the Arroyo administration's presidential adviser on the peace process for five years before he was named press secretary last month.

Earlier, in a phone patch to the Malacanang Press Corps (MPC), Dureza pointed out that "the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of the issue."

"The signing tomorrow would have to be cancelled. It's a good opportunity for issues to be threshed out -- we welcome the action of the SC," he said, adding that "the SC now will sit and be the arbiter of issues that have been coming from all sides and we hope the SC makes the final ruling."

"And we hope everybody will submit to it. We leave (this issue) to the judgment of the Supreme Court."

He added: "We have to await the process in the normal course. We will await the final ruling of the SC. There is no derailment here - it's just a postponement of the signing.

"We welcome the process in the SC because the issues will be discussed with objectivity dispassionately; and we are confident that the SC will uphold the position of the (negotiating) panel in crafting these momentous historic agreement that will address the long-standing problem of Mindanao and the country as a whole," Dureza said. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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