Nearing the tipping point?
While many heaved a sigh of relief upon hearing the news that peace talks between Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front collapsed Friday, there were also those who were disappointed.
Many of those who are disappointed do not necessarily believe that the memorandum of agreement that Arroyo’s representatives will sign with MILF leaders will lead to peace in Mindanao. In fact, like those who oppose the proposed agreement, they believe that it is just a vehicle for Arroyo to push for charter change so that she can stay in power beyond 2010.
In the MOA that was supposed to be signed August 5, the government commits the government to a change of “legal framework” because the creation of a Bangsa Moro Juridical Entity will required a federal state. That means the Constitution of the Philippines will have to be changed to make the form of government a federal system.
With a new form of government, Gloria Arroyo will then be eligible to remain in power.
The expected timetable for charter change is September next year.
Lito Banayo, former head of the Philippine Tourism Authority, former political adviser of former President Estrada and now columnist of Malaya, said in last Friday’s forum of former senior government officials , Arroyo’s sinister plan of hijacking the Mindanao peace process to push her own selfish agenda is not exactly bad for those who want to oust her.
He said, cha-cha at this time could be the tipping point that the growing anti-Arroyo forces are waiting for.
Banayo said those who have tolerated Arroyo these past years thinking that they have only two years left to suffer might now snuff out of their complacency and join those working for her ouster.
But it looks like those who are disappointed might be happy again because the latest news from Carol Arguillas of Mindanao News is that the GRP-MILF talks might resume today. She said Hermogenes Esperon, presidential adviser on peace process, texted her yesterday afternoon from Kuala Lumpur saying, “We’re hoping to restart.”
Arguillas said government negotiators are hoping to” break the impasse, presumably before President Arroyo delivers her State of the Nation Address (SONA)” today.
Yes, the concern is not really for lasting peace but to save Arroyo. Right now the immediate need is to save her SONA.
(Speaking of SONA, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza issued a press statement detailing what Arroyo will wear today at the SONA. He said, GMA’s gown will “capture the theme of self-reliance, protecting the environment,helping the poor, the vulnerable capacity of Filipino to excel fro stability of the nation beyond.” Jesus!)
But what really caused the breakdown of of the talks? Here’s from the MILF account:
“The second day (July 25) session opened at 3:00 pm upon the request of the government peace panel, informing the other party that the Cabinet Security Cluster-E was holding a special meeting to discuss the issue of plebiscite on the Category A on territory. The government wanted a longer period for the conduct of the plebiscite to be reckoned on the signing of the Comprehensive Compact. The MILF agreed to extend the period from six months to one year reckoning it “on the signing of the MOA-AD”, as originally fixed in the original signed document. After each Party made a justification of their respective positions, the facilitator called for a break to enable them to huddle among themselves and to consult with their principals.
“After more than an hour or so, the negotiating Panels were called back to resume session, and each Party was asked to present their new formulation on the matter. The government peace panel was called first, but merely restated their original formulation and made no further elucidation, saying they have presented their case so clearly already thereby warranting no additional explanation. The MILF reiterated their earlier proposition justifying their position. “How can we explain to our people and our commanders in the field the attitude of the government,” the MILF chief negotiator is quoted to say, adding “when the GRP panel keeps on tinkering or changing what has already been settled in signed documents?”
“The dramatic end came during the executive session called for by the facilitator. In attendance, aside from Datuk Othman bin Abdulrazak and Madame Hasanah binti Abdulhamid, were Secretary Garcia and Atty. Sedfrey Candelaria on the government side, and Mohagher Iqbal and Atty. Datu Michael Mastura, on the MILF side.
“In the final draft of the MILF, they acceded to the request of the government to reckon the conduct of plebiscite to the signing of the Comprehensive Compact, instead of the clause ‘after the signing of the MOA-AD.’ The draft copy was handed to the government through the Malaysian facilitator. The government also handed to the MILF through the facilitator their new draft on the conduct of plebiscite. Examining it briefly, the MILF side noticed that ‘the original version was watered down and worst the new draft omitted the timeframe of six months.’ It was at this instance that the MILF decided to leave the executive session. Later, they informed the facilitator that they were headed for their hotel in downtown Kuala Lumpur.”