Progressive House bloc lauds PNoy’s rejection of all-out war against MILF

QUEZON CITY (MindaNews/21 October) — The progressive political bloc Makabayan Coalition lauded President Benigno S. Aquino III for rejecting calls to wage an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) following the armed encounter in Al Barka, Basilan where 19 government soldiers died.

Aquino announced his stance against renewed war with the MILF on Thursday, a day before a scheduled command conference in Camp Aguinaldo.

However, Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño said the President’s pronouncement should be backed with “concrete actions on the peace process.”

In a statement Friday, Casiño said that their coalition agrees with Aquino that “the peace needs to be won completely” but urged him to match his words with concrete actions on the peace process.

“We agree that we should learn our lesson. Aquino showed political conviction rarely seen. We hope that he remain steadfast not to be swayed by the military line of thinking in dealing with rebels with legitimate causes, both with the MILF and the NDF (National Democratic Front),” he said.

Casiño cited past experiences where “past negotiations on peace have been sabotaged with the executive buckling under pressure from the military.”

“His mother, Corazon Aquino unsheathed the sword of war against the (Bangsamoro) people and the New People’s Army but ended with priests and Muslims getting killed. Perhaps the son learned his lesson from that,” he said.

The lawmaker also said the Aquino government needs to revise its “three-in-one” counter-proposal to the MILF’s demand for a Bangsamoro sub-state as framework for peace negotiation.

The government proposal includes a development package, reforming the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and correcting the narratives of the Moro history.

Casiño called the development package “development aggression using PAMANA (Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan Program), oil and gas exploration, foreign projects and the government’s own vested interests in power plants. The proposed Bangsamoro Commission is merely institutional bureaucracy like the ARMM,” he said.

He said the problem is the government’s propensity to undermine and undo all previous agreements.

“The same with the government’s stance on the NDF, as in the case of The Hague Joint Declaration and the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), refusing to release prisoners as part of its obligation,” he said.

“We fully support the Bangsamoro people’s right to self-determination and urge the Aquino government to pursue peace. We urge all parties to go back to the negotiating table and respect agreements,” he added. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)

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