The unsigned GRP-MILF Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain has sparked so much controversy and debate. Perhaps understandably so because the issues addressed by the agreement itself are, by themselves, subjects of negotiations between the two parties. It cannot be removed that in negotiations, there two, even more sides to the issues.
I think it will also be fair to say that parties not privy to the negotiations are not out of order when they begin raising questions about the negotiations itself and the product of such talks. Most especially if the outcome of the negotiations has an impact on the lives and concerns of those not party to the talks.
Therefore, it is only proper that an in-depth, objective and sober deliberation on the matter of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain be undertaken with all those who have concerns allowed an opportunity to be heard and to listen. After all, peace in
It is disheartening to hear that those who raise questions about the agreement seem to be portrayed as not in unison with the objective of achieving peace in
Rhetorics such as “politicians who in the past few days became willing mouthpiece in fueling chaos, fear, hatred and communal violence” tend to demonize anyone who raises a point of concern about the MOA-AD. Such statements seem contradictory to the call for people to “be responsible enough to tackle this issue in an intelligent and dispassionate manner, bearing in mind that we are all brothers and sisters, and that everyone in this country has the right and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity”.
While it cannot be denied that there may be some who may be throwing in a monkey’s wrench into the process for political gains, it does not give a justification to lump all those who raise questions about the MOA together and brand them as anti-peace, and prejudiced against indigenous people’s rights.
Just as we frown upon those who discriminate against minorities, we should equally frown upon those who fall into arrogance in the practice of reverse discrimination.
In a democracy, the right of the people to information and be heard on matters that affect their lives serve as a cornerstone. True peace advocates also exercise patience and tolerance, sometimes to the point of being unfair to themselves. While the proponents of the MOA-AD are consistent in saying that adequate consultations were made, the fact of the matter is that there are those who were not consulted but affected by the MOA.
While the government panel claims that there were 110 consultations, can they directly dispute the claim of Mayor Celso Lobregat, whose City Hall was included in the areas to be made part of the proposed BJE, that he was not consulted? If not, which they have not, then it is beyond argument that there were not enough consultations. Considering the impact of the agreement on the governance of the mayor, it is illogical for him to be left out of the consultations.
In the bigger picture, the continued negation of the executive department to educate the legislature about the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, to my mind, does not help to quell the furor over the agreement. It may be arrogance or simply a lack of political acumen, but their failure to reach out to the legislature during these times of controversy over the MOA will only serve to raise more doubts as to the true motives behind the moves. The government is the one doing the injustice to the indigenous peoples by not taking the extra step to convince those to whom the MOA will eventually go to that the MOA will be good for the country (after the signing, the amendments to the legal framework will have to be done through congressional action).
Before I filed a resolution for the House of Representatives to conduct an inquiry into the MOA for Congress to be better apprised of its contents in a formal venue, the GRP panel met with select members of the House. I found it to be ineffective because even if they were able to convince those select members (which they did not), they would still have almost two hundred others who are still in the dark about the basis, purposes, and prospects of the MOA’s provisions.
After I had delivered a speech on the need for Congress to be briefed as an institution, the GRP panel once again met with select members, once again alienating others. Is this the transparency that they are harping about?
I am all for the resolution of the conflict in