Peace groups to GMA: reinstate Afable; Deles asks “who’s making the decisions?”

 

In a letter dated June 21, the Mindanao Peaceweavers, Peace Advocates Zamboanga,  Mindanao Peoples Caucus, Initiatives for International Dialogue, Panagtagbo-Mindanao and Bangsamoro Center for Law and Policy, appealed to Ms Arroyo to “protect the gains of the GRP-MILF peace process by recalling your acceptance of Secretary Afable’s courtesy resignation and to reinstate him with full political backing and mandate which must be made clear to all members of your administration.

This, as Malacanang was reported by Newsbreak Online to have offered the post to outgoing Senator Ramon Magsaysay, Jr.

Magsaysay told Newsbreak Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita called him Thursday to offer him the post. Magsaysay acknowledged the problem is complex and that he would give the offer more thought after he returns from a two-week vacation in Europe.

Deles said, “more crucial than the question of whether or not Senator Magsaysay is fit for the job is the question of what brought about these sudden, controversial, and still unresolved developments in the leadership of government’s peace negotiating team at this very critical and sensitive juncture of the peace process.”

“From the different stories circulating about how this unexpected situation came about, we cannot help but suspect the large play of manipulation and deception behind this sudden changing of the guards,” she said, adding it is necessary to “unravel the real story behind Afable’s resignation and replacement as chief government negotiator to understand where the government wants to bring the peace process, who is now making the decisions, and in whose interests.”

“The crucial question is whether or not government is serious and has the will in seeking peace and in delivering all that a durable peace requires – or is it just playing games?” Deles asked.

The Mindanao peace groups said Afable’s “removal could not have come at a worst time.”

“Madame President, we are also deeply disturbed by persistent reports of opposition to Secretary Afable’s handling of the peace process allegedly from influential members within your cabinet and vested interest groups.  Thus, his removal sends the wrong message and casts doubt on the direction your administration intends to take the peace process,” the groups wrote.

The groups cited at least five major accomplishments of the Afable peace panel: the ceasefire had been holding and outbreaks of all-out-wars like those in 2000 and 2003 were avoided;  civil society was effectively engaged as active and neutral participants in upholding the ceasefire;  previously insurmountable issues in the exploratory talks were overcome;  cooperation between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces has immensely contributed to the campaign against extremists; and more and more members of the international community have come to lend their support to the peace process.

“These are remarkable achievements of your own peace panel who have resolutely concretized your mandate on the primacy of the peace process,” they said.

“We the peoples of Mindanao and those who have the most at stake therefore strongly urge you to protect the gains of the GRP-MILF peace process by recalling your acceptance of Secretary Afable’s courtesy resignation and to reinstate him with full political backing and mandate which must be made clear to all members of your administration,” the groups said.

Deles urged Senator Magsaysay “first to carefully discern whether or not this government, under its present leadership, can be trusted to look beyond its own interest of survival to abide by and uphold the commitments it will make at the negotiating table, even if it means exacting sacrifices from its political allies.”

“If it has treated its own designated negotiators (Afable and Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Jr.,) two highly respected and exemplary peacemakers, with manipulation and deceit, then it is only right to ask if this government can be counted on to stand by its word – to not lie, to not cheat, to not steal – in the conduct of peace negotiations and in the implementation of any peace agreement it may conclude,” Deles said. (MindaNews)

 

 

 

 

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