Sec. Garcia to Abp. Valles: ‘I’m sorry, it was a costly mistake.’


DAVAO CITY, August 14, 2008 –No less than the Government Peace Panel Negotiator Secretary Rodolfo Garcia who said sorry to Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo Valles for what he termed as “ a very costly mistake” in the inclusion of Barangays Zone 3 and 4 in the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE).

“We did what we could. We have tried our best to come up with this sub-agreement on the third substantive aspect identified by the parties under the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001. I’m sorry if it felt short of your expectation, Bishop, and the expectations of your people in Zamboanga,” said Garcia.

Valles, during the open forum of the high level briefing on the Memorandum of Agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) made a strong comment on the government’s failure to consult the people on the areas to be placed under the self-governance system of BJE.

He questioned the GRP panel for inadequacy of dialogue and consultation especially the people of Zamboanga in the proposed MOA–AD which now contains the general principles concerning, among others, Bangsamoro identity and rights, the establishment of a genuine self-governance system appropriate for the Moro, the areas to be placed under this self-governance system, and the protection and utilization of resources found therein.

“For what you (GRP) have done, you (GRP) have lost the people of Zamboanga City. You missed to conduct consultation and dialogue which are very important,” Valles sturdily said in public during the forum.

Garcia admitted that the two barangays Zone 3 and 4 were never discussed to be part of those areas to be placed under the BJE.

“It was a very costly mistake that Barangays Zone 3 and 4 [were] included in the MOA –AD,” he told Valles.

In Zamboanga City, at least eight villages are included in the proposed BJE namely: Barangays (Villages) Zone 3, Zone 4, Landang Gua, Busay, Landang Laum, Manalipa, Pasilmanta and Tigtabon. Covered also are Lobregat’s ancestral home, the Fort Pilar Shrine, the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, the City Hall and the entire city center.

While Garcia recognized the need to consult the people, he was quick in saying, “it is not always at all times that we have to consult the people, otherwise, the process will become interminable.”

But, Valles who was so disgusted declared, “I have strong disagreements of what Garcia, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Sec. Hermogenes Esperon Jr., said.”

In a separate interview, Valles told CBCPNews that the MOA- AD was crafted with so much haste and lack of consultation.

“I will still stand by what I have said in public that I have strong disagreements with the statements of the GRP panel,” said Valles.

He also said the BJE would be divisive and only sow confusion among the people for lack of proper consultations.

“The BJE instead of gaining the trust of the people, breeds mistrust for the people of Zamboanga City,” added Valles.

“Had not the proposed MOA-AD between GRP-MILF made public, we would never have known that Barangays Zone 3 and 4 have been included in the BJE,” said Valles, adding:

“We have nothing against peace process. We don’t want to breed hatred and mistrust between Muslims and Christians. What we need are transparency, proper consultation and dialogue.” (Mark S. Ventura)(CBCPNews)

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