President Benigno Aquino III yesterday appointed UP-College of Law Dean Marvic Leonen as Chief government negotiator for the talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID) welcomes this latest development as the new government prepares to fulfill its promise for a just peace in Mindanao.
We do not doubt Dean Leonen’s probity and qualification to handle the job. While others have expressed fears that being a constitutionalist, the new negotiator might adopt a rigid position as far as the constitutionality of peace agreements is concerned, we see his deep knowledge of the constitution as an advantage as he attempts to find a creative and “out-of-the box” political solution to the decades old conflict that has cost many lives.
We recall for instance, Dean Leonen words after the Supreme Court struck down the MOA-AD as unconstitutional: “ the worst thing the Supreme Court can do is for it to say that in all peace negotiations, the Constitution is the framework, and all of it.”
In the same PCIJ-Newsbreak forum, Leonen argued that a government could not be expected to negotiate only to the extent of the limits of the constitution.
We are further encouraged when we recall him asking these questions: “How can a minority ever change the Constitution? And when ever in our history did we take into consideration ethnicity or the interest of an ethnic group, the Moro peoples, when we crafted the Constitution?”
We at the PCID have asked the same questions.
To Dean Leonen we offer our congratulations and full support.
Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy
Unit 307 Continental Court Bldg
#47 Annapolis St., Greenhills
San Juan City, Philippines
Telefax: (+63 2) 722-9064
Mobile: (+63) 917-777-7039