Press Release
August 13, 2008


Opposition senator Chiz Escudero today scored the Arroyo administration's sudden endorsement of federalism, saying there is no such thing as making an ad lib on the fragile issue of peace process in Mindanao.

This came after PGMA publicly announced her support for federalism "to resolve a bloody moro war for self-rule in Mindanao."

At the same time the senator chided Press Secretary Jesus Dureza for painting the senators as flip-flopping from their support for the shift to federalism. Dureza said federalism has been the government's trajectory for negotiations with the MILF.

"Don't pass the blame for your failure in Mindanao Sec. Dureza. For a government who flaunts support for peace in Mindanao but who in itself derails the process by a muddled policy and road map as the bungled MOA-AD on BJE would show, you don't need to look far than yourselves to see how fractured your peace plan is."

Escudero said when the highly contentious MOA-AD was underhandedly framed, there was no word or statement on federalism. Last January, he said PGMA reiterated there will be no cha-cha during her term.

"It was not even mentioned in her SONA. Now suddenly here is a public confession on her preference for federalism. The motive is high suspect."

Escudero said it seems this administration is just making this decision up as they go along, ignoring the realities surrounding the issue.

"By their own admission, the palace inadvertently said the MOA-AD rests on shaky assumptions and presumptions. If one excuse for their sudden shift to federalism is to resolve the Mindanao conflict, then it is tantamount to them professing the unconstitutionality of the MOA-AD."

He said there is no short cut to peace process, it being a sensitive issue. "PGMA cannot just decide on a day to day affair. She ought to have a genuine will to provide a durable political solution to Mindanao and she can start with providing a clear road map towards peace in Mindanao so that we can follow each step".

Escudero said any attempt of this administration to hide under the cloak of resolving the Mindanao conflict in endorsing federalism to advance their personal gain will not prosper.

He said will he be among those who will furiously block this move in the senate. "When I signed Senate Joint Resolution Number 10 pushing for federalism, my signature was with clear reservations as to timing and provisions to be amended."

He said upon signing he verbally told Sen. Pimentel, the resolution's author that as to timing, it should be after PGMA's term and as to provisions, there should be safeguards on so as not to touch on term and term limits among others.

From here to 2010, Escudero is amenable to laying the groundwork for allowing federalism under certain conditions. He said the shift should be done under a new administration.

"No administration that is about to finish her term has the moral authority to execute charter change, given the serious doubts as to the motivation and propensity to include amendments to promote their own interests."

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