Press Release
July 23, 2008

Are we surrendering a constitutionally mandated process to the whims of a terrorist group/ Expectations at SONA

I will be attending the constitutional event that is the SONA because it is my duty. I will be watching out for the pronouncement of the President on certain issues. I would like to hear about -

1.) Food security and rice self-sufficiency. We are vulnerable to rice producing and importing countries.

2.) How she is going to address the continuing rise in price of oil.

3.) How we are going to wiggle out of the loose situation of Northrail, the already overpriced construction of the 32 kilometers from Caloocan to Malolos of US$503 Million will require and additional US$299 M, meaning if we abide by that, the construction of our Northrail will be US$25 M per that to the offer of Korea to construct the Southrail from Caloocan to Alabang - 34 kilometers, longer by 2 kilometers they were offering it only for US$50 Million meaning about US$1 something Million dollars per kilometer...The two are identical in nature, both are to provide us a double track railway, to provide us with 21 locomotives...32 kilometers as against 34 kilometers...and we will spend US$25 M per kilometer for Northrail as against US$ 1 M per kilometer for Southrail

4.) Security situation in Mindanao and how we will go about the ARMM elections. There are proposals for the postponement of the constitutionally mandated electoral process on August 11, and the proposal is being triggered by the MILF.

We need to listen to a lot of sectors for us to make a decision on that proposal. I would like to hear from

a. the two factions of the MNLF- the Misuari breakaway group and the mainstream group of the MNLF in the persons of the Council of 15, I got a call from one of them this morning and it seems that they are not very sure about agreeing to a postponement of the elections. We need to listen to the MNLF because we have a standing agreement which is still in effect with the MNLF. How will the MNLF react to an agreement entered between the government and the MILF?

The MILF broke away from the MNLF when we entered into the Tripoli Agreement because they did not agree with the form and structure of what was agreed upon between the government and the MNLF. Are they (the MNLF and the MILF) consulting with each other? They must consult with one another. Without that, there is a great possibility that any agreement we may enter into with the MILF will be rejected by any of the two factions or both of the MNLF, so we will be back to square one. We need to examine this.

b. I also would like to hear from the duly elected political leaders in our Muslim communities - the Governors and Mayors...

c. I would also like to hear the voice of the traditional leaders..these are the Imans and Ulamas..they have also sentiments on the issue...

d. I also would like to hear the voices of the peripheral ethnic groups, I am referring to for example the provinces of that are in the periphery of the territory of the ARMM.

When they asked this elections be postponed, and its postponement can only be effected through an action of Congress - the two Houses of Congress - with just about 6 or 7 effective debating days session remaining, can we hear all the voices? We can not surrender to the MILF, in terms of surrendering to them a constitutionally mandated electoral process.. I need to hear the stakeholders on the issue.

I do not think there is time for us to consider postponement through a Congressional act..if this was a sentiment in the very beginning, why did they raise this just now...what influenced this this decision or proposal a product an in depth study of the implications of such a proposal... What will be the effect of this on the peace process, is there going to be a quid pro quo if we are going to allow this postponement, is the postponement a pre-condition to any agreement that may be entered into between the government and the MILF? which case are we surrendering to the MILF?..

We will be trivializing a constitutionally mandated process if we will give in to the whims and caprices of what some people call, a terrorist group.

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