On the appointment of new GRP panel chair
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has named Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis as chair of the new government panel that will resume peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), reports tell us.
But what I think is a striking reaction to this news is a comment from Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, executive director of the Cotabato City-based Institute of Bangsamoro Studies.
He said in a story carried by MindaNews.com that whoever heads the government’s negotiating panel is “secondary in importance.” The fundamental issue, he said as quoted in the report, is whether the new GRP panel represents the GRP as a whole or just the executive. Does the new panel represent the Filipino people in the negotiations?” Lingga asked, adding the success of the peace talks “will depend more on how creative the new GRP panel will be.”
Learning from the experience of the dumped Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) the power and “creativity” of the panel is now subject for scrutiny.
Of course this should be treated as a welcome development in a government that claims to conduct wide consultations on how to go with the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, while it fronts DDR (Disarmament, demobilization, reintegration).
The Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) reported that Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told Malacanang reporters that Seguis’ designation, “together with other members of the new GRP panel,” was already signed by the President. When she signed it, the report did not say, the MindaNews reported.
Only the name of Seguis, currently Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Special Concerns, has been divulged. The peace panel is usually composed of a chair and four members.
This is the third time in the history of the peace talks with the Bangsamoro that a diplomat sits as chair, but the first for a career diplomat in active service, the MindaNews report said.
Its actually wait and see now, with fingers crossed, and feet on the ground. We hope for peace, pero unta seryosohon na! (but it should be taken seriously this time).