Press Release
August 4, 2008

Zubiri wants peace and conciliation in Mindanao
Clarifies position in ARMM polls

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri yesterday stressed his desire to have a peaceful and conciliatory framework in the forging of the final peace agreement and the enabling act to solve the Mindanao crisis.

Zubiri, Secretary-General of the Lakas - CMD, reiterated that he could not support the ARMM poll postponement as he in fact "went to Shariff Agwak in Maguindanao for the proclamation of the Lakas candidates."

He said Mindanao governors showed him a manifesto expressing their opposition to the postponement of the ARMM polls.

He said that before a final peace agreement is signed, "a disarmament should be implemented in order to achieve a peaceful and conciliatory framework."

Likewise, he asserted to the GRP panel that the plebiscite should not be ahead of the Congress's approval of an enabling act. Zubiri pointed out that the GRP peace process panel presentation placed the plebiscite ahead of the adoption of an enabling act.

He was concerned that the government "should make everything possible within their means to know or assure the rest of the country that the MILF would abide by the results of the polls this August, as well as when they participate in the 2010 or 2011 polls, as the case may be."

"What is the guarantee that they will not take up arms again if they disagree with the results of the polls? Will they abide by the poll results?"

He also asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to convey to the Organization of Islamic Conference that the GRP panel did their best to convince the senators to postpone the ARMM elections, but failed, by the sheer lack of material time. In my years of experience in Congress never had Congress passed a law, even one certified as urgent by the President, within two working days."

The DFA informed the Senate that it was the OIC countries in one of the meetings who said they want a postponement of the August 11 ARMM polls.

On governance, Zubiri said "administering the disjointed and far away areas of Bukidnon from Lanao or Basilan is very impractical."

"There never was any consultation with the people in those areas including the lumads with whom we live harmoniously," Zubiri said. He informed the panel that the inclusion of several barangays in Bukidnon and originally the whole of Bukidnon as a future part of Bangsamoro Juridical Entity was highly controversial.

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