Another member of government peace panel resigns
By Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) Updated February 10, 2010 12:00 AM
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Another member of the government peace panel negotiating with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation front (MILF) resigned from his post after being left out of key actions of the panel.
In a two-page letter addressed to President Arroyo, lawyer Tomas Cabili, who represents non-government organizations and Christians, said the government peace panel lacks transparency.
An official privy to the peace panel said Cabili was relegated to being a consultant rather than a panel member. He was also not invited to the recent exchange of draft agreements in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In late December, peace panel member Adel Antonino, who represents local government units and the business sector, also resigned, saying he was left out of consultations.
Cabili said the government’s chief negotiator, Rafael Seguis, implements a policy of confidentiality that is contrary to his views.
“I suffered in silence from being marginalized for adhering to my independent view and remaining true to the quest for genuine sustainable peace,” Cabili said. “It disappoints me when I encounter people who are not transparent and honest.”
Cabili also said there are reforms that must be carried out to improve the performance of the peace panel, such as the pending bill in Congress for the creation of the Commission on Peace.
Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat, who obtained a copy of Cabili’s letter, said the official’s resignation proved that the government’s peace effort is “shrouded in secrecy and not transparent and should cause alarm.”