Press Release
October 15, 2009


Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday urged government to give a fixed office and secretariat to the peace panels negotiating a settlement to the simmering Muslim and Communist rebellions.

While he welcomed the appointment of Undersecretary Nabil Tan as officer-in-charge of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the 40-year-old lawmaker lamented the fact that both panels have to rely on the OPAPP for material and technical support.

He noted that the OPAPP has an annual budget of only P107,168,000, which is split between P40,248,000 for personal services and P66,920,000 for maintenance and other operating expenses.

"We must give full support to those negotiating an end to these decades-long insurgencies. We should have a fixed secretariat and an office for both peace panels so they can be more effective on getting the job done. We must also give the necessary budget for them," Escudero said.

He also said that the government must not treat the OPAPP as a holding area for Palace loyalists looking out for better opportunities.

"With the talks at a virtual standstill, it is obviously time to revisit the government's approach to the peace talks with the MILF and the CPP-NPA-NDF," Escudero said.

Tan, a former vice governor in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, has said that he did not expect peace talks with either rebel group to go forward in the remaining eight months of the current administration.

He also indicated that what the OPAPP can do is prepare a transition report so the next president can be guided on the "proposed directions of the peace process in the next six years."

Escudero has said the next administration should pursue peace talks with all rebel groups in a bid to achieve a final settlement during its six-year term.

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