Dureza confirms ‘some phrases’ were inserted in MOA


By Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:53:00 08/16/2008

MANILA, Philippines—The changing of the guard at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) preceded “breakthrough” changes made in the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said Friday.

Dureza said “some phrases” were inserted into the document after he left the OPAPP in the hands of Hermogenes Esperon Jr., then newly retired as chief of staff of the Armed Forces, on June 16.

“When I left the OPAPP, we were still at that particular stage,” Dureza said at a press conference, referring to the yearlong stalemate with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) over the issue of the expanded Bangsamoro homeland.

As per Dureza’s account, negotiations bogged down when he was still OPAPP chief because of the MILF’s insistence that any agreement signed by the two panels on the issue of ancestral domain should be “implementable.”

He said the government had been insisting that the peace talks should be done within the confines of the Constitution.

When Esperon took over, “it was ripe for a breakthrough,” Dureza said.

“Some phrases were put in, some paragraphs that would clearly state that those changes that will bring about peace in Mindanao will have to go through our internal processes,” he said.

Mutually acceptable

Asked to elaborate on the “new phrases,” Dureza said these had been put across the negotiating table a long time ago.

Asked which side had relented, he said: “Well, you know, when you say ‘relented,’ that is unfair. It’s not an accurate description. In a negotiation, you consider each other’s position and come up with something mutually acceptable.

“From the very beginning, both shared the same context of attaining peace together. So there’s no question that both the MILF and the government were committed to find a real solution to the problems in Mindanao.”

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