GRP-MILF Ancestral Domain Deal Doomed Before Signing

Even before it could be formally signed in Malaysia on Tuesday, the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is already as good as doomed, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Monday. 

Lacson said the agreement was not only too arbitrarily and secretly forged; it was also negotiated with an administration whose “unelected” leader has a track record of breaking her word.

“The MILF might think that the agreement they will forge in a foreign land tomorrow, negotiated under cover of shadows, without consulting all the concerned publics, will stand the test of time. It will not,” he said.

He advised the MILF to think more than twice before sealing the deal with the government, since they face the prospect of being bound by their faith to keep their word, while the present government thinks up excuses not to abide by it.

Besides, he said the next administration that will succeed the Arroyo regime in 2010 may not honor the agreement, mainly because of the agreement’s questionable provisions.

Lacson stressed that while he will support the dreams and aspirations of Muslims, agreements that aim to achieve this goal should be “forged with utmost sincerity, and by men and women who come to the table with clean and legitimate hands.”

“From where I sit, as a member of the Senate and as a leader of the opposition, let me tell our Muslim brothers this: bide your time. Do not forge an agreement with this leadership, because it will not be honored by those who would follow her,” he said.

Likewise, Lacson noted that several of the areas covered by the agreement are bailiwicks of the political opposition, such as Zamboanga City; Iligan City, Kauswagan, Kolambugan, Linamon and Maigo towns in Lanao del Norte.

“The government seemed to have conveniently identified these areas based on its political inclination during the past elections,” he noted.

He also noted that the agreement may have overlooked other significant issues involving ancestral claims in Mindanao, which may lead to renewed or heightened armed conflict.

“It is bad enough that our social and economic situation has worsened into the margins of extreme poverty. It would be worse for all of us and our collective future if we allow treason to sneak into a national commitment,” he said.

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