Councilors want Zambo City out of proposed Bangsamoro sub-state

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/18 August) – The City Council unanimously approved Wednesday a resolution strongly calling on the government peace panel in talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front not to include Zamboanga City in whole or in part under the Bangsamoro sub-state being proposed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The resolution, authored by journalist turned politician Rogelio Valesco, was addressed to GPH chair Marvic Leonen and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles, who are scheduled to meet with their MILF counterparts on Monday, August 22, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“As representative and voice of the people of Zamboanga City at the City Council, I stand for my people and for my city. And I enjoin the city officials, particularly my fellow councilors for us to be united and be one in defending the sentiments of our people and the future of our city,” Valesco said.

He said that while it is important that the panel hear the sentiments of the MILF, it should also listen to the voice of the city.

He, however, clarified that he fully supports the peace talks with the MILF.

“When it comes to peace, all Filipinos should be made stakeholders as we are for peace. Let everyone be participant to peace building, but in the process, let it be done thru consultations and transparency,” he said.

“We are doing this for the future of the Zamboangueños. if it needs a hundred times or a thousand of times for us to protest, then let it be so as we are all willing to do it a hundred and even a thousand times just so our sentiments would be heard,” he added.

The resolution was passed two days after Mayor Celso Lobregat told Leonen in a letter and through a phone call to consult the people of Zamboanga and Mindanao before submitting the government panel’s counter-proposal to the MILF’s draft agreement.

On Tuesday, House Deputy Speaker for Mindanao and Zamboanga City first district Rep. Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar discussed with the Mindanao lawmakers the renewed GPH-MILF peace talks.

Salazar said she supports the peace process but stressed that the negotiations should be within the bounds of the Constitution and that the sentiments of the Zamboangueños in particular and Mindanaoans in general should be appreciated and respected.

Zamboanga City second district Rep. Erico Basilio Fabian said he is for the peace process to move forward and hoped that a long and lasting peace could be achieved.

Fabian, like Climaco, stressed that the negotiations should be done within the limits of the Constitution.

He strongly urged the GPH panel to respect the stand of the Zamboangueños who he said have rejected the proposal to be part of the autonomous region in two plebiscites.

The first plebiscite was held in 1989 to determine what provinces and cities wanted to be part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and the second in 2001 for the expansion of the ARMM.

Fabian was confident the Zamboangueños would stand up against the city’s inclusion in the proposed Bangsamoro sub-state “just like we opted not to be part of the autonomous region.” (MindaNews)