Critics Tell GMA: Don’t Use BJE Issue to Push for Cha-Cha

Critics say that it is saddening that a landmark agreement, like 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), is now being used as a tool to revive Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s charter change drive.

Vol. VIII, No. 28, August 17-23, 2008

QUEZON CITY – As the issue of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), which the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) supposed to have been signed Aug. 5 by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), stirred a controversy, Malacañang moved to resurrect its proposal for charter change.

The Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the signing of the MOA-AD following petitions by North Cotabato Vice Gov. Emmanuel Piñol, Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat, and other local politicians. In the Aug. 10 oral arguments on the petition, Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio said some of the MOA-AD’s provisions violate the Constitution.

Malacañang has meanwhile expressed support for Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, Jr.’s Resolution No. 10, seeking to establish a federal form of government in the Philippines, saying that it is all systems go for Cha-cha and that Cha-cha is all for “genuine and lasting peace” in Mindanao.

Meanwhile, firefights in North Cotabato between government troops and the MILF since the second week of this month have left 35 dead and resulted in more than 135,000 evacuees.

cha-chaMrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been criticized for using the issue of the BJE to advance its own interest, which is the extension of her term.

In a television interview conducted by Umagang Kay Ganda’s (A Very Beautiful Morning) Anthony Taberna last week, Sen. Francis Escudero said that the MOA did not mention anything about federalism.

“Now, the government is using the peace process as an ad lib (to push for Mrs. Arroyo’s term extension),” said Escudero in Filipino.

Different sectors denounce Cha Cha

The Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) lambasted Malacañang’s renewed attempt to push Cha-cha, coming as it does after the signing of the MOA-AD, which failed to push through.

“Malacañang is railroading the Cha-cha train by riding on Senate Resolution No. 10, introduced by Senate Minority Floor-leader Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., which seeks the creation of 11 federal states in the country. Mrs. Arroyo is hell-bent on staying in power beyond 2010. So it is not surprising that she will grab every opportunity to justify Cha-cha. I’ve never seen a president that is so power hungry,” says Ferdinand Gaite, Courage’s national president.

“What really makes us furious is that they’ve even used the quest for self-determination of our Muslim brothers and sisters…in advancing their selfish interests,” Gaite said.

Since the beginning, the Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP or National Federation of Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines) had doubted the sincerity of the Arroyo government in finally recognizing the rights of the Bangsamoro to their homeland.

Himpad Mangumalas, Lumad leader and KAMP spokesman, said in a statement that the government wants to project itself as recognizing the Bangsamoro’s right to their lands but GMA’s track record alone contradicts this self-portrayal.

“The GRP is in no place to claim that they have accepted and re-established their recognition of the rights of the Bangsamoro, we see it as a mere ploy to re-introduce Charter change,” Mangumalas added. Bulatlat

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