Senator Mar Roxas will be the guest of honor in this morning’s historic furling of the anti-homeland deal streamers at the balcony of City Hall.
Mayor Celso L. Lobregat said that people from different sectors – Christians, Muslims and other ethnic groups are expected to converge in front of City Hall for the memorable occasion which signifies the end of the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) entered into by the government peace negotiators and their MILF counterpart. Roxas, who has been very vocal against the controversial MOA-AD and who was also instrumental in helping Zamboanga City and North Cotabato in the filing of a petition before the Supreme Court against the MOA-AD, was chosen by the city government to be the official guest in the said historic occasion. The senator is expected to arrive early morning from Manila. He will immediately proceed to City Hall for a breakfast and thanksgiving fellowship with the city officials led by Mayor Lobregat and other prominent figures from the religious, academe, business and civic groups. Roxas is expected to deliver a strong message to the people of Zamboanga City and all the Mindanaoans regarding the people’s victory over the controversial MOA-AD declared by the high tribunal as unconstitutional. After the brief program at City Hall, Roxas will also hold a luncheon press conference with the media regarding other vital and pressing national issues like the ongoing investigation of the multi-million fertilizer scam, “euro generals”, and the charter change being pushed by the Arroyo administration. The senator has been very consistent in his position that the Senate investigation on the fertilizer scam and “euro generals” should be expedited. Mayor Lobregat, North Cotabato Vice Governor Emmanuel Pinol and Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Cruz—Mindanao’s three toughest leaders in opposing the ancestral domain pact between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MILF), will lead the lowering of the streamers before a sea of people donning red shirts in front of City Hall after the prayers for peace today. Rizal street will once again be festooned with red as hordes of peace loving Zamboanguenos including residents from the neighbouring Isabela, Basilan—Muslims and Christians alike—will converge in front of City Hall for the furling event just as they took part in the August 14 huge anti-MOA-AD rally, demonstrating unity and solidarity in the fight to retain sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic. The streamers which read “Yes to peace, no to BJE” and “Let us be united in the fight to retain integrity and sovereignty of Zamboanga City” were hanged at the City Hall balcony at the height of mass protests against the pact. Because of its significance, the said streamers will be kept at the museum and will form part of the city’s treasures and legacies. The lowering of the streamers today signifies the closure of the homeland deal issue, after the Supreme Court on October 14 declared the pact unconstitutional citing lack of consultations and violations of the law. The fight against the MOA-AD was one of the most controversial issues that struck the country. It had wide ranging effects and manifested people’s common aspirations for unity, peace and progress. “Let us once again demonstrate unity and solidarity. Wear red and join in the historic lowering of the streamers that will mark the end of our struggle against the controversial MOA-AD”, the mayor urged. Lobregat along with Pinol and Cruz were the three local government executives in Mindanao who fought without fear against the botched MOA-AD. Sen. Roxas is one of the national leaders who stood by their side in the advocacy that led to the landmark decision of the Supreme Court. Because of their fearless fight, Lobregat, Pinol and Cruz were referred by erstwhile Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon as the “Tres Dodongs” or three kids. Jemuel E. Mojica with report from Shiela Covarrubias