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President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III

Ph gov’t says National Peace Council an independent body

President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III
President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III

MALACAÑANG, Philippines – Malacañang on Tuesday guaranteed the independence of the National Peace Council formed by President Benigno S. Aquino III to discuss the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said during the daily press briefing that the council members are “chosen men and women of integrity and independence” who can look at the draft BBL with “fresh eyes” because they were never part of the peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the crafting of the proposed law.
“Having no active involvement in the negotiations, other than a genuine interest in the peace process — as all of us have a genuine interest in the peace process — they were chosen to guide deliberations on the peace summit,” Lacierda explained.
President Aquino announced the creation of the National Peace Council during a speech on March 27, the first anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
The President invited Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, businessman Jaime Zobel de Ayala, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, former Ambassador to the Holy See and Malta Howard Dee, and Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, founder of the non-profit organization Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement, to gather other responsible and respected leaders to spearhead a National Peace Summit.
Lacierda further said that the administration did not impose anything on the leaders tapped to head the council.
“We have not imposed anything on them but they are mindful of the importance of the peace process, as manifested by this particular bill that is before Congress now. How they will look at it, how they will decide on it, how they will deliberate or discourse upon the Bangsamoro Basic Law is entirely their own,” he added.
“For those who fear that they are not independent, we can categorically assure you that this National Peace Summit is a conclave of men and women who genuinely seek peace and would like the peace process to push forward. How they look at the Bangsamoro Basic Law, we would leave it to their own independent observations,” Lacierda said.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.