Press Release
October 10, 2012


Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, PDP Laban President, today welcomed the framework agreement forged by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). He also urged the public to support government efforts to bring peace in Mindanao.

"Peace in Mindanao means peace for the whole country," Pimentel asserted in a statement, "I urge everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims, to give this agreement a chance to work."

President Benigno Aquino III on Sunday announced the completion of a framework agreement that is envisioned to put an end to the decades old secessionist movement in Muslim Mindanao.

The agreement will be signed on October 15 and provided for the creation of a transition commission to work out the details of the accord.

Pimentel, who is a senator from Mindanao, said that it is important for both parties to embark on a social communication campaign to expand the "constituency for peace."

"We need to inform the public, especially those who are not from Mindanao, about this agreement so we can avoid what happened in the previous agreement," Pimentel said.

In 2008, the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration and the MILF forged a Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD) that was eventually declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court amidst public outrage about its alleged secrecy and dimunition of the nation's sovereignty.

Devil in the details

"We need to avoid the mistakes of the past. As they say the devil is in the details. So I will be interested in the details like the power sharing arrangement and whether the agreement would require Constitutional amendment," Pimentel explained.

Pimentel said that this would create a problem since while most people support peace there is strong public opinion against charter change.

The legislator from Cagayan de Oro stressed the importance of forging a peace agreement within the confines of the Philippine Constitution.

"I am glad the President emphasized in his announcement that the agreement follows the Constitution and respects our sovereignty. Remember that when the high court declared the previous agreement unconstitutional it said that the executive cannot promise charter change as part of an agreement."

Political Capital

Pimentel also explained that the main difference today and the previous MoA-AD is that the Arroyo was a widely unpopular president while Aquino enjoys the trust of the public.

"I think this is crucial because Pres. Aquino can utilize his political capital to marshal this agreement in Congress and in the bar of public opinion."

Pimentel, who is running for reelection in 2013, said that as a legislator he will support a peace agreement that would create a just and lasting peace and Mindanao and that respects the country's sovereignty and Constitution.

"I think we all agree that the conflict has destroyed so much life and property of our people; it is time for peace to reign so that our Muslim brothers and sisters can work for a bright future that they deserve as citizens of this republic."

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