Solons Object to Emergency Powers Bill
Casayuran, Mario B., Manila Bulletin
Senate Minority Leader Teofisto Guingona and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile objected yesterday to a Malacanang plan to ask Congress to give emergency powers to President Estrada to revive Mindanao's battered economy.
Enrile said the fasttracking of economic development in Mindanao cannot be used as legal basis for the curtailment of basic civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution, while Guingona said he could not see the correlation between the current destruction of property and eventual renhabilitation of destroyed properties.
Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado, who testified at a hearing on on several Mindanao-related resolutions filed by Senators Robert Barbers, Raul S. Roco, and Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr., said in an interview that the military establishment does not need the President having emergency powers "because we can attain our objectives" without such powers.
Mercado said the door to peace in Mindanao remains open and the military option is only exercised to repel MILF's depredations.
Undersecretary Nabil Tan of the Office of the President's Peace Processsaid the national government's policy is still to enter into a negotiated solution with the MILF and is keeping its communication lines to MILF leaders open.
Mercado, Tan,and other government officials, mostly military officers, appeared yesterday before the Senate national defense committee chaired by Sen. Rodolfo G. Biazon and the Senate peace, unification, and reconciliation committee chaired by Sen. Gregorio Honasan to give their views
If the MILF's military capability is not degraded by the AFP, the government would be in for more surprises and headaches as the war could be widened, Mercado added.
Tansaid the national government is ready to negotiate with the MILF and has kept is communication lines opened but the two conditions -- drop secessionist aims and stop armed hostilities and depredations -- set by the President have to be met.
He said he believed that the conditions set by the President is in accord with the Constitution.
Gen. Job Mayo of the National Security Council (NSC) said the MILF violated the parameters of the peace negotiations by hitting government troopers with mortar fire and snipers, and establishing checkpoints on roads, overrunning towns, and engaging in extortion activities.
No self-respecting government would allow such depredations by an armed group to take place within its political territory, Mayo stressed. …