Business groups oppose MOA-AD


By Elisa Osorio
Saturday, August 16, 2008

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Four business groups criticized the government’s Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“It is a mistake to have the MOA-AD signed in Malaysia before bringing it to Congress because a signing would signify that it is already a done deal,” said Jesus Arranza, president of the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI).

Arranza said the government should have conducted a public hearing before agreeing to sign the MOA-AD.

“The first step after deliberations should have been a public consultation. They should not have sprang this on us,” Arranza explained.

He said the idea of separating Mindanao from the rest of the country might have a negative effect on investors. Arranza explained that this might pose a challenge to businessmen operating in both Luzon and Mindanao.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said the MOA was made without adequate consultation.

PCCI president Edgardo Lacson said the group will leave the legality aspect to the courts but he stressed the need to keep the country intact.

“We are one nation and one people,” Lacson stressed.

When asked if this would have any effect on the investment appetite of businessmen, Lacson said people would have different perceptions. “Some may be scared while others may welcome this.”

The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) expressed support for the peace talks with the MILF, but the group assailed the MOA-AD that has sown confusion and raised tensions in Mindanao and the rest of the country, to the point of endangering the whole peace process.

In a statement, MAP said the situation is the direct consequence of a totally insufficient consultation with the people and the lack of transparency in the deliberation of the provisions of the agreement.

MAP said any peace accord should respect the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Philippines.

“We oppose any attempt to dismember our country by laying the foundation for the creation of an independent and sovereign Bangsamoro state, which will be given exclusive ownership of the areas delineated as their homeland,” the group said.

Meanwhile, the Makati Business Club (MBC), one of the most influential business groups in the country, also opposed the MOA that paves the way for the creation of a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE).

“It is flawed in the process just as it is flawed in its provisions. What was lost in the process was any appreciation for legitimacy in a democracy that stems from winning consensus, including the consent of the governed. Many, if not all, of its provisions violate the Constitution, which strangely enough the Memorandum never mentions by name,” the group said in a statement.(PStar)

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