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Palace asked to explain 'grey areas' in P5M MILF aid

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MANILA, Philippines - An opposition lawmaker on Saturday urged Malacañang to explain "grey and nebulous areas" in its P5 million donation to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman of Albay province said the Aquino administration must answer material questions about the donation "before any accusations of treason or culpable violation of the Constitution are raised."

He said that if this was pursuant to an agreement during the formal exploratory talks in Malaysia in 2007 to establish the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI), then Malacañang must produce the alleged agreement and validate the binding obligations of the contracting parties.

Lagman also asked the government to explain the set of parameters under which the donation was given.

"Where and when was the amount delivered to the MILF or was the remittance made during the Tokyo secret meeting between the President and MILF Chieftain Murad or in Malaysia during the resumption of the peace talks?"

Malacañang had admitted handing a P5-million check to the rebel group and said it would seek an accounting of the money. It dismissed reports that it gave the funds to the MILF to buy guns and ammunition.

With regards to the check, Lagman said the Aquino administration should provide the following information: the names of the account used, the drawer’s bank and the payee of the check; and the names of the bank and the account the check was deposited to if it was not cashed.

"Who personally remitted the financial assistance and who personally received the amount? Where is the acknowledgment receipt documenting the transaction, particularly the purpose of its remittance? Under the acknowledgment receipt, is the MILF obligated to make an accounting and within what period of time?" he further asked.

Earlier, Marvic Leonen, head of the government negotiating panel in the peace talks, said it was the Arroyo administration that made the P5 million commitment to the MILF to fast-track the establishment of the BLMI.

She said the creation of the institute was finalized and formally agreed upon during the 14th formal exploratory talks held on Nov. 14-15, 2007.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the BLMI was something the Aquino administration believed was "worth pursuing."

However, Lagman said: "Pending the conclusion of the peace accord, is the MILF not considered a rebel group which is fomenting discord and committing atrocities in Muslim Mindanao against Philippine soldiers and civilians until now, and therefore an enemy of the state?" (abs-cbnNEWS.com)




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