PNoy confident of final pact with MILF even without Leonen

Posted at 11/22/2012 3:31 PM

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino is confident that a final settlement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is within reach even without Marvic Leonen as the government's chief peace negotiator.

In a speech during the 5th National Congress of CODE-NGO, Aquino said presidential peace adviser Ging Deles gave this assurance when asked if somebody can replace Leonen upon his appointment as Supreme Court associate justice.

Aquino admitted having qualms about letting Leonen go.

"Sa loob ko, talagang maganda ang ginawa ni Marvic na trabaho na magkaroon ng pagkakaunawaan. 'At kinakabahan ako pakawalan kita ngayong hindi pa tayo tapos,'" Aquino said of what he told Leonen when he interviewed him.

"Sa totoo lang ho, maski na napilitan nang kapiraso lang si Ging, inako na ho niya lahat ang responsibilidad na talgang mapapaspas ang ating final settlement," Aquino said.

Aquino lauded the performance of former civil society members who have joined government, including Deles, Budget Secretary Butch Abad, and former CODE-NGO chair and now DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman.

Abad, in particular, got a ribbing from the President when he cited Abad's sound management of the government's budget and spending.

He referred to his and Abad's baldness, saying that he had not fully screened what his speechwriters prepared for him.

"Sa mga natitirang hibla ng mga buhok namin--nakalusot sa akin 'yun Butch--kitang-kita naman siguro ninyo ang sakripisyo naming dalawa sa serbisyo," Aquino said while controlling his laughter.

The President lauded the role of civil society groups in nation building, saying that his administration remains open to their suggestions.

He took a swipe against those who merely criticize but do not offer proposals to solve problems.

In introducing Aquino, Abad said the President risked the recurrence of his flu in attending CODE-NGO's event, saying it showed the importance of civil society groups for Aquino.