Malacañang on Thursday rejected calls for the resignation of Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Quintos-Deles and Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the head of the government peace panel in talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as both still enjoy the full trust and confidence of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in a news briefing, explained that the President will not be swayed by allegations that the two officials were siding with the MILF in connection with the Mamasapano massacre last month.
Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano called on Aquino to fire the government’s peace panel for supposedly defending the MILF despite the group’s involvement in the Mamasapano clash.
Sen. Francis Escudero, meanwhile, also sought the peace negotiators’ resignation for supposedly speaking on behalf of the MILF instead of pushing the agenda of the government.
But Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said Deles and the peace panel members were not acting as MILF mouthpieces during Senate inquiries.
On January 25, forty-four police commandos were killed in a firefight with the MILF and its supposedly breakaway group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Escudero said most of the provisions of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) seem to favor the MILF more instead of being fair to both sides, an indication that the members of the government peace panel failed to push for the interest of the government.
“If they (peace panel members) don’t want to resign, they should start showing that they are with the government. The MILF can fight for themselves, and the government panel should fight and protect the interests of the government not the other way around,” he added.
Senate President Franklin Drilon, however, objected to calls for members of the government peace panel to quit, noting that such calls will achieve nothing and will only derail the peace process.
Drilon is appealing for a deeper public support and understanding of the role of the government peace panel in helping realize lasting and genuine peace in Mindanao.
“While I fully understand and recognize the public’s high emotions following the Mamasapano tragedy, Secretary Teresita Deles and Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer do not deserve to be maligned in such an unwarranted manner,” he said.