GRP panel now has 3 members; MILF to name panel shortly

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 August)  — The government peace panel in the negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), now has three members, with the appointment of University of the Philippines Political Science professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and former Agriculture Secretary Senen Bacani.

Ferrer and Bacani were sworn into office along with UP College of Law Dean Marvic Leonen, the peace panel chair and 39 other officials in simple rites at  the Rizal Ceremonial Hall of Malacañan Palace on August 3.

Also sworn into office were Undersecretary  Dimacangcay Pundato and Assistant Secretary Romulo Halabasco of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Leonen was named chair of the government peace panel in the negotiations with the MILF on July 15. His appointment was welcomed by Mindanao’s peace advocates who saw Leonen as an “excellent” and “brilliant” choice.

“Marvic as panel chair is excellent choice. He has both professional credentials plus ground experience. His personality is fit for negotiation and he has extensive experience with Indigenous Peoples. Great choice!,” Redemptorist Brother Karl Gaspar, anthropologist and author of several Mindanao books, said.

Lawyer Mary Ann Arnado, secretary-general of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus, said Leonen as chair is “a brilliant choice.”

“I am overwhelmed with joy. His appointment could only mean that P-Noy is serious about having a political negotiated settlement with the MILF. Leonen is highly credible, untainted in his advocacies and public service. He is one of the best legal minds on ancestral domain and right to self-determination. A brilliant, consistent, very grounded activist with a heart for the IPs (Indigenous Peoples) and marginalized groups. Perfect choice to negotiate what could be the most crucial turning point of the GRP-MILF talks,” Arnado said on July 15.
In reaction to the appointment of Ferrer and Bacani, Arnado said: “So far, so good. I hope the government will be able to complete the full composition of the peace panel soonest.  I hope too that the MILF will already activate its peace panel as a gesture of confidence and reciprocity to President Aquino’s pronouncement to formally open the talks with the MILF after the Holy Month of Ramadhan.  Miriam Coronel is a long standing peace advocate with strong academic credentials and solid background about the armed conflict in Mindanao.  She is highly qualified to represent the voices and concerns of women in the peace talks as mandated by the UN Security Resolution 1325.”

Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the deactivated MILF peace panel, said, “I know Miriam personally. She’s a peace advocate. Her principles will now be put to test versus government policies which are vested interest-based. She’s qualified to the task. It does not matter who are the two (other) GRP panel members as long as they can commit and can speak for the government.”

Iqbal earlier told MindaNews that the MILF peace panel will be announced “when the GRP completes its panel.”

Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, executive director of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies, said Ferrer is “a good person and has better understanding  of the problem. I don’t know Senen.”

But Lingga said, “this is not inter-group problem but territorial self-determination problem. While the role of negotiator is important, the success of the negotiations depends on the political formula the president is willing to accept.”

Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Jr., former president of the Notre Dame University and now executive director of the Institute of Autonomy and Governance, told MindaNews, “I sent my comments on Miriam and Senen last week to P-Noy (President Aquino) but he proceeded so (I am) simply respecting his prerogative. I nominated (for the) LGU (Local Government Unit sector) Lala vice Miriam and ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) representative vice Senen.”

Lala is North Cotabato Governor Emmylou “Lala” Talino-Mendoza.

There is no information about Ferrer and Bacani in the website of the OPAPP. The website’s last update was on July 16, a day after Leonen was named chair of the panel.

According to the website of the  Social Science Research Council, Ferrer is a convener of the citizens’ network called Sulong CARHRIHL, which promotes observance of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law forged between the Philippine Government and the National Democratic Front. She is associate professor of Political Science at the University of the Philippines where she also convenes the Program on Peace, Democratization, and Human Rights.

The SSRC website also said that Ferrer was director of the UP Third World Studies Center from 2000 to 2003 and deputy director from 1995 to 1998. She co-chaired the Non-State Actors Working Group of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines from 1999-2004. She joined fact-finding missions organized by international NGOs investigating violence in Cambodia (1993, 1997), East Timor (1999, 2000), and Nepal (2003).  She was one of 27 Filipinas who are part of the “1000 Women for the Nobel,” nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

Other sources said Ferrer, an AB Philosophy graduate, cum, laude, of the University of the Philippines,  was a member-consultant of the Reciprocal Working Committee for Political and Constitutional Reforms of the Government Negotiating Panel for Talks with the National Democratic Front from January 2002-February 2003.

She finished her MA Southeast Asian Studies in Kent University, UK in 1991 and is presently completing her PhD by research at the Tokyo University Graduate School of Law and Politics.

She has been a political analyst/columnist of www.abs-cbnnews,com, the interactive online news site of the ABS-CBN broadcasting network, since 2008.

Ferrer is also co-convener of the University Consortium on the Mindanao Question (December 2008-present).

Bacani was Agriculture Secretary under the administration of then President Corazon Aquino, the President’s mother, from 1990 to 1992.

A certified public accountant, Bacani graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce from the De La Salle University. He was Summa Cum Laude and was the class valedictorian.

He was granted an East-West Center scholarship in 1966 and graduated from the University of Hawaii with a Master of Business Administration in 1968.

Bacani presently holds a number of key positions with the following companies/institutions: President, Ultrex Management & Investments, Corporation; Chairman & President, La Frutera, Inc.; Chairman, Trully Natural Food Corporation; Member, Board of Directors, Swift Foods, Inc.; Member, Board of Directors, Gold Coin Management Holdings Ltd (Hong Kong); Member, Board of Advisors, Roxas Holdings, Inc.; Member, Board of Directors, Philippine Chamber of Agriculture & Food, Inc.; Member, Board of Directors, Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers, Inc.; Chairman, Board of Trustees, National Cooperative Movement Service Cooperative; Member, Board of Advisors, East-West Seed Philippines, Inc.; Member, Board of Advisers, Mindanao Business Council; Member, Board of Advisers, Biotechnology Conference of the Philippines; Chairman, Center for Environment & Sustainable Development Foundation, Inc.; Vice-Chairman, Technical Advisory Committee, PCARRD; Member, Board of Trustees, Philippine Center for Population and Development; Member, Searca Advisory Board; Member, Board of Trustees, Sarmiento Foundation, Inc.; Member, Board of Directors, Cooperative Insurance System of the Philippines; Member, Board of Trustees, Jollibee Foundation; Member, Board of Trustees, Philippine Rice Research Institute; Member, Board of Trustees, PinoyME Foundation.”

According to his executive profile and biography in Bloomberg Businessweek.com, Bacani started his career with Dole Company in Honolulu “and for the next 22 years, he progressively occupied management positions of increasing responsibility in the Philippines, Thailand, Ecuador and Costa Rica.”

He was vice president of Dole Asia from March 1989 to December 1989, before serving as Agriculture Secretary.  (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

Comments

comments