MAYOR Celso Lobregat said that true, genuine and meaningful public consultations not only with local government officials with all stakeholders and sectors of the society are crucial foundations for any peace process.

Lobregat made this statement as he observed that the government panel is rushing up things in conducting consultations with local government unit (LGU) chief executives as shown in the Dipolog series held last January 7.

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In the Dipolog series, Lobregat said the government panel led by Doctor Roland Adamat, the representative of the indigenous sector, announced albeit with hesitation the resignation of Adel Antonino who represents the local government units and the business sector in the government peace panel.

Adamat, according to Lobregat, would not give a direct response on questions as to what would happen to the LGU and business sectors representation in the panel, except for saying that whether an alternate representative is designated by Malacañang, the peace process would be pursued nonetheless.

Lobregat said Antonino resigned as panel member for various reasons, foremost of which is the lack of proper coordination in the conduct of consultations such as the one held in Zamboanga City last December 15 to 16.

Unlike the supposed consultation in Zamboanga last December, Lobregat said the Dipolog City forum was well attended by over 40 local government chief executives due to sufficient notice and proper coordination. The consultation in Zamboanga City was attended by only eight to 10 chief executives, including some uninvited guests.

Lobregat submitted to Adamat a position paper addressed to panel chief Ambassador Rafael Seguis, reiterating the Zamboanguenos’ steadfast and firm stand on the ongoing peace process in Mindanao and other observations concerning the conduct of consultations.

In his letter, Lobregat stressed that “it has also been the consistent view of the city and its residents that one of the crucial foundations for any peace process is that it should be based on true, genuine and meaningful public consultations not only with local government officials but also with the stakeholders and all sectors of the society, to include the indigenous cultural communities, religious leaders, academe, non-government organizations, the business communities, social and civic organizations, youth and the like.”

Lobregat is set to confer this week with Secretary Anabelle Abaya concerning his proposal to host the conduct of a credible and honest to goodness consultation series in Zamboanga City either this month or next month.

Abaya earlier promised to provide all the necessary resources of the Opapp for the conduct of the same in Zamboanga City.

Lobregat has strongly protested the conduct of the supposed consultation in the city last December 15 to 16 due to very short notice and lack of coordination with panel members and several other observations, including the tapping of a member of the Bangsamoro Society, who was one of the respondent-intervenor against memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) before the Supreme Court, as head of the panel secretariat.

Lobregat received his invitation for the December 15 to 16 consultation only last December 14.

Other city mayors in the region also did not receive and did not attend the activity.

Lobregat said even Antonino was not informed of the Zamboanga consultation until the mayor called him through telephone December 14.

Lobregat has been meticulously monitoring the conduct of the peace process ever since the time of interim peace agreements with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in an effort to protect the interest of the city of Zamboanga.

The mayor continuously calls on the residents to remain vigilant and alert in the light of the ongoing renewed peace talks. (Bong Garcia)