Mar 272015

Amid strong opposition and criticisms, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said Friday that the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the peace process will emerge stronger and with the bigger participation of the Filipino people.

In her speech at a book launch to mark the first year since the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, Deles admitted that what happened after the Mamasapano clash has been difficult and has been psychologically and physically battering.

“When you think why did this happen, why do we need to go through this again, with what we have seen over the last two months and especially in the last weeks, I’m getting more and more affirmed and confident that this has happened and the way that we responded to it is to make the process stronger,” she said.

“Certainly, going through this crisis, facing this challenge, all of these will result to a stronger process, a stronger BBL with more people on board. Why do we say that? We say that because of all the statements that are coming out, from different sectors,” she added.

After the Mamasapano clash, which resulted in the deaths of 44 Special Action Force commandos, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front members, and five civilians, criticisms and questions on the BBL snowballed.

Some lawmakers even withdrew their support from the BBL, asked President Benigno Aquino III to replace the peace panel, and stop peace negotiations with the MILF.

We will overcome, we will push ahead

Despite this, Deles believes that they should stay the course.

“As long as we don’t give up, as long as we continue to face the  challenge and as long as we say we will overcome, we will push ahead. This is where our country wants to go. Then we will have a stronger peace process, we will have a stronger law with more people understanding what it was about, what the struggle is about, what the debates are about,” she said.

She reiterated that the peace agreement with the MILF was not railroaded and it will be seen in the books that were launched.

“To see what the process really went through, it is good that we were able to compile the opening statements, it is good the document is there. These books could be given to anyone who keeps on saying that this was rushed, that this was not a process of negotiation, that this was a walk in the park. It was not, it was a struggle through that entire phase of the negotiations,” she said. 

One of the books launched, “Getting to Peace: Opening Statements from the GPH-MILF Peace Talks (2011-2014)”  is a compilation of statements that were delivered by the chief negotiators, now Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and chief MILF negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, during the formal peace negotiations under the Aquino administration.  

“In Defense of the Bangsamoro Basic Law: Selected Essays,” on the other hand, is composed mainly of speeches and essays articulated in several peace forums and discussions on the peace process in the southern Philippines. 

Among the authors of the speeches and articles were Coronel-Ferrer, government peace panel member Senen Bacani, government Technical Working Group head Jose Luis Martin Gascon, the head of peace panel’s legal team Atty. Anna Tarhata Basman, University of the Philippines College of Muslim Affairs Dean Julkipli Wadi, retired Justice Adolf Azcuna, and the framers of the 1987 Constitution.  

Along with the books, the “Kababaihan at Kapayapaan Magazine” released its third edition with stories of women advocating peace in the country. — JDS, GMA News

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