Press Release
October 21, 2008

Peace negotiation must start in earnest - Loren

Now that the question on the Memorandum of Agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) had been resolved following the Supreme Court's decision declaring it illegal, it's now time for the concerned parties to buckle down to work.

Senator Loren Legarda raised this point yesterday, adding that the government should immediately take action in the face of growing concern over the possibility of violence erupting anew in Mindanao.

"The government cannot relax. The peace initiative with the MILF must continue," Legarda said.

"A day's delay in this issue adds trauma to thousands of people affected by the conflict," Legarda lamented.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court declared the MOA-AD between the government and the MILF unconstitutional.

The agreement was supposed to be signed in Malaysia, but the high tribunal issued a temporary restraining order prayed for by concerned stake holders who claimed lack of consultations prior to the signing of the agreement in Mindanao.

Conflict between the rogue MILF fighters and the government forces escalated resulting into more or less 100 casualties and the dislocation of thousands of civilian population.

"To avoid a repetition of this, the government must act decisively," she said, adding that the recent SC ruling should provide the government peace negotiators enough guidelines in pursuing peace without violating the Constitution.

Legarda also cited the SC's reminder to the Executive branch to stay within its power when entering into an agreement and avoid taking actions with great repercussions on the country's sovereignty.

"The government must not resort to amending the Constitution just to effect an agreement with the MILF," she explained.

Amendment to the Constitution can be done through various modes, either through constitutional convention or a constituent assembly.

The Supreme Court voted against MOA-AD 8-7. Those who did not vote in the majority decision believed the issue was moot and academic.

"The message is clear to both parties, that they must follow the legal process in order to come up with a genuine agreement," Legarda said.

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