Jan. 13, 2008

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel,
Jr. (PDP-Laban) said he believes that Congress will
back a Malacaang call for amending the 1987
Constitution to pave the way for the adoption of a
Federal System of Government to break the prolonged
impasses in the governments peace talks with the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front.

Pimentel, however, warned that efforts to pursue
Charter Change will not sit well with the people if
the administration and its legislative allies will
attempt to ram through the proposal to adopt a
unicameral parliamentary system of government which
will deprive them of the right to elect the head of
government (president).

He said that while he is supporting the Palaces
federalism plan which has been his advocacy since the
1980s, such a worthy goal may go awry if the
administration will ride on the proposal to pursue a
hidden agenda: that of allowing President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo to stay in power beyond 2010.

It is high time to push forward the adoption of a
federal system but the process of amending the
Constitution must not be used as a subterfuge for
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos continued stay in power,
the minority leader said.

The adoption of the federal system must be totally
rid of partisan considerations. Otherwise, there will
be hell for the next generations of our countrymen and

Pimentel said the creation of a BangsaMoro Federal
State under a Federal Republic of the Philippines will
put an end to the Muslim secessionist conflict as it
will give the people in Muslim Mindanao a measure of
self-rule and will also enable them to assert and
preserve their cultural identity, especially their
Islamic faith and way of life.

He said the failure to forge a final peace agreement
between the government and MILF, after more than 10
years of negotiation has made life miserable for the
people in Muslim Mindanao. He cited the hesitation of
investors to set up business there despite the
bountiful natural resources of the area.

Pimentel also lamented that opportunities to step up
the rehabilitation of conflict areas were squandered
as the United States has withheld the release of $30
million development aid for Muslim Mindanao since it
is preconditioned on the signing of the peace

The $30 million aid was promised by US President
George W. Bush as early as 2003.

The lone senator from Mindanao also urged the Arroyo
government to heed the warning of the MILF leadership
that the protracted delay in the signing of a peace
agreement is causing restiveness within the rebel
group, referring to the reported attempt of younger
and more aggressive elements to seize control of the
MILF to resume the separatist war.

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