Monday, 07 November 2011 20:00
I categorically deny that I was among the proponents of the P5 million fund assistance for the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) as Malacanang claimed.
While I strongly supported the formation of the BLMI and saw the need to train the bangsamoro for future leadership roles in anticipation of a peace agreement and the need to support it, I was not privy at all to that P5 million fund, much less a proponent thereof.
I personally checked today with former chairman General Rodolfo Garcia who was chairman then of the panel while I was presidential adviser for the peace process (PAPP). He recalled that the amount of P5 million needed for the BLMI came out for the first time during the workshop conducted by the Development Academy of the Philippines with the MILF and his panel. It was a follow-up of what was taken up during the chairmanship of Secretary Silvestre “Yong” Afable who replaced me when I resigned as panel chair in 2003.
According to Chairman Garcia, he sent a letter requesting for the approval of the amount to Malacanang but it was not approved up to the end of the Arroyo administration.
Former chairman Garcia also recalled that there was no mention at all of the P5 million fund assistance in any of the documents covering the exploratory talks that were held, although there was reference to the BLMI that needed support.
Hence, for Malacanang to claim that I was a “proponent” without first ascertaining that I was not even privy to that matter is clearly a ploy to discredit my published criticism of the turnover of the P5 million pesos using government funds and timing it during the initial salvo of the resumption of peace talks with the MILF which I found to be “improper” and lacking in sensitivity.
I said in my regular column as Publisher of the Mindanao Times, a daily based in Davao City, several weeks ago that the turn-over of the P5 million check and the ensuing public uproar about it may even affect the integrity of the peace process. I also volunteered the view that if the attacks would continue unabated despite the explanations of both the government and the MILF, then it may be good for the MILF to return the check and help clear the air and spare the peace process the public bashing it does not deserve. For those comments, Malacanang accused me of being the “proponent” of something I criticized. Good spin, I admit.
In the course of my verifications, I was also informed just last night that there was also an earlier support fund given during the time of presidential peace adviser Secretary (Teresita) Ging Deles before she resigned in 2006 with the so-called Hyatt 10. This was to support the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) of the MILF. However, the amount was not given directly to the MILF, as what was recently done, but quietly done by handing it to the Malaysian facilitator who in turn turned it over to the MILF.
I guess, Malacanang should also seek some clarifications from its own peace adviser about this instead of falsely accusing me just so they have someone else to blame for its own missteps.
We all have to help clear up things for the sake of the peace process. (The author was a former Arroyo peace adviser and chairman of the government peace panel negotiating with the MILF)
By Jesus Dureza
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