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PIA Press Release

PGMA names Abaya as new OPAPP secretary

Manila (24 October) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday named Prof. Annabelle Abaya, a member of the government peace panel negotiating with the communist rebels, as acting secretary of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

Abaya replaced OPAPP chief Avelino I. Razon Jr. who resigned to run for mayor in Manila in next year's election.

Prior to the appointment of Abaya, Undersecretary Nabil A. Tan was officer-in-charge of OPAPP.

Abaya's appointment was announced by Press Secretary Cerge Remonde during a press briefing in Malacanang this afternoon.

As the new presidential peace adviser on the peace process, Abaya holds a cabinet rank position.

During a press conference with Malacanang reporters, Abaya said that "my job is to hold the fort during the political fever," apparently referring to the upcoming presidential elections in May next year.

Abaya said her marching order from the President is to "do what we can in the next eight months and prepare transition program for the new President…resumption of government talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and National Democratic Front (NDF)."

At the same time, Abaya said the government will also look at reviewing the 1996 peace pact with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) "to strengthen it."

She made it clear that the government wants peace, saying "we will work on it and let us surprise you when there are developments…the important thing is we are talking."

Commenting on the statement of former President Joseph Estrada that he would wage an all-out war with the rebels, Abaya said: "we have to get out of this macho thing…you are not just killing one another, but affect a lot of people…creating animosity and un-peace hurts a generation. Hindi pwedeng ubusan…our history is all about talking things over and I hope thru it we will find peace."

"I would like to take the former preside aside and remind him of history that there is no durable peace that was won thru war," Abaya added.

Before assuming her new post, Abaya was a member of the government peace panel tasked to negotiate with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army/National Democratic Front (NDF) headed by former Labor Secretary Nieves R. Confesor.

Other members of the panel are Atty. Sedfrey M. Candelaria, Ms. Paulynn P. Sicam and Deputy Director General Margarita R. Songco.

Abaya holds a degree in Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University in the United States, Masters Degree in Dispute Resolution from the University of Massachussets in Boston, and is pursuing her doctorate degree in Conflict Resolution from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Abaya is also the president of the Conflict Resolution Group Foundation, Inc. and a conflict resolution consultant of World Bank, Asia Development Bank and Asia Foundation. (with Samar IC) [top]

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