Press Release
August 4, 2008


Opposition Senator Chiz Escudero today said the government's postponement of the ARMM election on August 11 is an apparent show of the Arroyo's administration's weakness in governance

"The Arroyo administration's acceding to the MILF demand shows our government is acting like a hostage of the MILF. Demanding for a postponement of the election is part of the design of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Organization of Islamic Conference in establishing an independent state".

"Why does the government have to give in to MILF's demand? MILF is not Mindanao and Mindanao is not MILF. Bakit MILF lang ang kinakausap nila? Marami pang dapat isinasang-alang at kinukonsulta ukol sa peace talks sa Mindanao."

Escudero said if they succeed with this it will prove that the MILF and other secessionist groups can get what they want by threats and acts of terrorism. "The basis for the postponement is groundless rhetorically and constitutionally. How the election will impede the peace process and how the postponement will hasten the peace negotiation is unclear and both the government and the MILF failed to rationalize this".

The senator vowed to block the move to postpone the election in the senate, at the same time urging Malacanang to thrash the signing of the agreement tomorrow.

He reminded the government that they cannot just agree and sign anything without consultation and consensus with other branches of government and the people who might be affected by it.

President Arroyo, he said, has time and again backtracked on her words. In her SONA, Escudero quoted her as saying "we are three branches but one government; we have our disagreements; we have hopes and ambitions that drive and divide us, be they personal, ethnic, religious and cultural. But we are one nation with one fate."

"The signing of that executive agreement in Kuala Lumpur was kept under wraps from the three branches of government and even the local units of Mindanao. Is this what she means by one government? Kung ito na nga lang hindi ma-deliver ng government panel, ano pa kaya ang ibang pinagkasunduan at sinang-ayunan nila na pipirmahang agreement bukas?"

Escudero said the only way to achieve lasting peace is by following the basic rudiments of democracy and due process and not clandestine agreements entered into in backrooms by government negotiators.

"How many times have we already asked our people if they want to be included in the ARMM? Twice? In both elections, the people have spoken in the negative. What more does the government need to hear? Bleed the people out until they get the self-serving answer that they want?"

Any amendment, resetting the ARMM elections in particular, Escudero said, can only be made effective and valid through a plebiscite duly called for that purpose. "In a plebiscite the people directly participate. It is considered sacred as it defines or makes a social contract such as the ARMM".

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