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MNLF: Nobel for PNoy won’t end hostilities

A SENIOR peace negotiator on Monday doubted the chances of President Benigno Aquino III winning the Nobel Peace Prize, saying this would even incite rebellion in Mindanao.

“I don’t think he will qualify,” said Absalom Cerveza the spokesman of the Moro National Liberation Front, one of the negotiators of the 1996 MNLF peace accord with the government under then President Fidel Ramos.

Cerveza said that if Aquino would use the framework agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as a vehicle for him to be cited for a Nobel prize, the attempt would fail.

He explained that the legality of the government’s peace accord with the MILF remained hanging, with questions about its legality.

“The achievement for having forged a peace agreement with the MILF is not big enough to merit the Nobel prize,” Cerveza said.

Cerveza compared the MILF peace agreement as a small piece of treaty compared to the MNLF Jakarta accord, which was brokered and orchestrated by 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

“The exposure of the MNLF agreement is comparatively wider that the MILF because it was facilitated by the international community,” Cerveza said.

While the accord with the MILF has been signed, he added, its implementation and enforcement remained uncertain because of the likelihood of legal challenges.

He suggested that Aquino stop aspiring for the Nobel Prize.

“The Nobel Prize will not end the hostilities and resolve the peace and order problem in Mindanao,” Cerveza said. “It will incite rebel groups to form other rebel factions. There will be no end,” he warned.

The Palace on Monday again denied that it was lobbying for a Peace Prize but said President Aquino deserved the nomination just the same for the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

“Do I think he (Aquino) deserves it? It would be an honor for the Philippines if we’ll have President Aquino nominated. It (CAB) is in the eyes of the international community a big milestone for the promotion and propagation of peace,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

“It is probable that some others who have felt that there has been no significant peace accord reached since Aceh and that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was a step forward in promoting peace and, therefore, it is quite probable that they would have nominated the President,” he added.

Lacierda cited the “overwhelming positive response from the international community” toward the peace agreement.

For the peace pact between the Indonesian government and Aceh’s separatist movement, it was the negotiator, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, who won the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize.

The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan earlier accused presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles of lobbying for Aquino with Norway’s Green Party during a recently concluded retreat for mediators and peace negotiators in Oslo.

Deles has denied the accusation, saying no representative of the Green Party was present during the Oslo conference.

“Let’s settle this: government is not lobbying...It is not by our insistence or through our prodding that there are plans to nominate him. But again, we are not in the know on who are lobbying or promoting President Aquino for the Nobel Peace Prize,” Lacierda said.

Asked if the Palace viewed the delay in the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law as the fly in the ointment of Aquino’s possible nomination, Lacierda said the government is committed to submit the

draft Basic Bangsamoro Law to Congress when session resumes on July 28.

“The President will certify it as urgent and we are confident that the Bangsamoro Basic bill, while it will go through the legislative process, will become law,” Lacierda said.

Earlier, Aquino said he has proposed a meeting with MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim this week to finalize the draft BBL.

The President also insisted that all the provisions of the draft BBL were constitutional amid speculations that problematic items were causing the delay in the submission of the measure to Congress.

His proposed meeting with Murad next week will be a follow up to their 15-minute talk in Hiroshima Tuesday last week.

“We’re putting in all of the details and I asked him if it would be possible to meet sometime next week, either (the government and MILF) panels or we in particular or our designated representatives to thresh

it out and come up with that proposed measure and give it to Congress even before the State of the Nation Address,” the President said.

Earlier, MILF vice chairman for political affairs Ghadzali Jaafar said his group has three main concerns—that the delay in the vetting process will result in a domino effect; that the draft BBL might be watered down when it is already discussed in Congress; and that there might be provisions in the draft BBL that would require the amendment of the 1987 Constitution.

Jaafar called on Aquino to rally his allies in Congress to keep their earlier commitment of passing the BBL by December, after which the plebiscite will be held in the first quarter of 2015.

The plebiscite will cover the current provinces and cities in the ARMM, the cities of Isabela and Cotabato, six municipalities in Lanao del Norte, and 39 barangays in six municipalities of Cotabato province. With Maricel V. Cruz

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