Aquino effectively junks MILF peace talks

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By declaring he will not push for the amendment of the Constitution, President Aquino has in effect junked the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement his representative Mario Victor Leonen signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in October 2012. That pact was hyped as the roadmap for peace in Mindanao.

MILF and government negotiators are merely pretending that whatever they agree upon will be implemented. That’s something that can’t happen because that would require amending the Constitution.

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Deserved or undeserved reward? Chief Negotiator Leonen and Aquino jubilant during Framework Agreement signing with MILF October 15, 2012; Leonen’s oath-taking before the President as Supreme Court justice a month later.

Most of the provisions of the Agreement require changing the Constitution, such as the establishment of a Bangasamoro state “asymmetric” with the Philippine Republic, the creation of its own police forces, and its ministerial form of government.

The main function of the Agreement’s Transition Commission (Part VII, paragraph b) is “to work on proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution for the purpose of accommodating and entrenching in the constitution the agreements of the Parties whenever necessary without derogating form any prior peace agreements.”


But Aquino announced May 21 that he would not exert any effort to amend the Constitution. He had in mind the clamor to amend the Constitution to allow ownership of land by foreigners, but he forgot having promised to amend the basic law to accommodate the Agreement with the MILF. It is the only way to implement the peace pact with the Muslim insurgent group

The Constitution does not allow case-by-case amendments to it, for example one involving only the setting up of the Bangsamoro state, for ratification by the people. It requires either a Constitutional Convention or the Congress organized as such by a vote of three-fourths of all it members, which opens the Constitution to any amendment the members agree upon.

We are reasonably certain that the Agreement will be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and would require amending the Constitution because we have a very precise precedent.

In 2008, the Court ruled as unconstitutional the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain signed by President Arroyo’s negotiators, and yet it was just a proposal and not an agreement. All of the reasons the Court cited apply to the Aquino-MILF pact, as constitutional expert Fr. Joaquin Bernas and law professor Harry Roque have extensively explained in newspaper articles.

MILF leaders have been complaining that government negotiators are delaying the talks, asking the government that it go back to these issues, such as the one on wealth-sharing, which was agreed upon months before.

“Our commanders can’t wait forever”, Moro Islamic Liberation Front Ghadzali Jaafar angrily said, implying their fighters will renew their armed struggle if the peace talks with government fail.

Don’t they get it? With Aquino declaring that he will not push for the amendment of the Constitution, nearly all of the work of the Transition Commission will become purely, entirely academic, if not useless. Implementation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law will require amending the Constitution.

The Commission will simply be writing papers that will go straight to the dustbin, as there will be no constitutional convention to evaluate their proposals. The Bangsa Moro Basic Law, which the Commission is tasked to formulate, will also be trashed, since by the time they finish writing it—late 2015 or 2016—Aquino will be too lame a duck to order Congress to approve it. Our congressmen—especially those from Mindanao—will be insane if they voluntarily pass a law that would give Muslims in Mindanao their own state.

The MILF leaders just don’t get it. They’ve been used as characters in Aquino’s telenovela. The drama of Mr. Aquino secretly flying to Japan to meet with the MILF leaders in a hotel function room in August 2011 and the signing of the so-called Framework Agreement in October 2012 were part of a script intended for an ambitious objective.

As I reported last year, these moves were made by Aquino’s media strategists to get him to win the Nobel Peace, or at least have him nominated for the award. The precedent was his mother’s similar move, who, her officials claimed, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize after she released all political prisoners including top Communist Party leaders. Alas, Jose Ma. Sison and the rest immediately went underground. [Actually, the names of those nominated are kept secret for 50 years, which means that the person who nominated Aquino leaked the information.]

So Aquino and his deranged media strategists also thought they could pull off a similar trick, with the communists in her mother’s case now the MILF for him. The signing of the Framework Agreement was rushed for October 2012 to give them time to find somebody to nominate him to meet the Nobel Prize nomination deadline of February next year. They convinced Aquino that with the prestige of a Nobel Prize laureate, he could bamboozle the Congress and even the Supreme Court to approve the Framework Agreement, which however is a template for dismembering the Republic. They overestimated Aquino’s prestige worldwide: their contacts in institutions whose members can nominate Nobel Prize candidates refused to nominate him.

Leonen, a former University of the Philippines law dean, was Aquino’s chief negotiator who probably swore on the constitution that the Framework Agreement doesn’t violate the constitution.

That was a small prize for Leonen to pay for the reward Aquino gave him doing that. About a month later on November 2 after the Agreement was signed on October 15, Leonen – who has seen the insides of a courtroom probably less than a dozen times — was appointed November by Aquino to the highest post for a lawyer: a seat in the Supreme Court, making him at 51 years old the youngest associate justice 1938.

Considering that Leonen is a lawyer, I’ve been wondering: Did he require Aquino to give him his post-dated appointment of him to the Supreme Court before he signed the Framework Agreement 15 October?

Leonen might be one very clever lawyer and a happy Supreme Court justice, but I hope he can sleep at night with the curse he helped impose on the nation. When it becomes certain that the Agreement cannot be implemented as it violates the constitution, the MILF will claim that it is on a high moral ground and that it was betrayed by government. They will blame the coming bloodshed on Aquino’s – and Leonen’s – hands. And they will be spilling blood long after Aquino ends his term, making peace talks more difficult with a “betrayed” MILF.

The next cycle of violence in Mindanao will tragically be traced to an ambitious academic lawyer’s desire of fast being a Supreme Court justice and a President’s pipedream of winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com

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10 Comments

  1. As a matter of fact we moro people, we want peace and we dont want war anymore, but we couldnt accept to be fool again and again the whole world knows that Mindanao is belong to us. We will redeem it by all means, we will unite verysoon and join our forces all together do not blame us if philippine will turn into hell.

  2. john sherwin on

    Mindanao, home of the Horamintados, home of the Moro terrorist, Jimaa Islamia, Alkaida, AbuSayaf, MILF, MNLF all kind of the terrorist..name it. Mindanao is a home of the Moro peace loving people but it was illegally annexed and occupied by the Filipinos from Luzon and visayas. when this Moro people resisted against the Filipino aggression, The Filipinos has used all kind of propaganda’s to demonized the Moro people. the Moro people want to regain their homeland but this Filipino land grabber claim that Mindanao is home of the Bisaya and ilocano ilonggo or whoever who is actually from luzon and visayas. now the Moro people agreed to settle for less like autonomy, but since 1970 MNLF, they are betrayed by the Filipino government how many time. MILF is an evidence that Moro people want to setle the problem trough peaceful solution but Pnoy is just an example of the Filipinos who’s continuously betraying the Bangsamoro people. regardless of how many years of negotiation, the Filipinos has always using the constitution in order to reject the deal with the Moro people. it is really good to right in the history that Filipino is not just a land grabber but a big and a good example of evil.

    • For a country running out on workable ‘living spaces’ losing out to the oligarchs, war and conflicts may be the only excuse. So what’s new?

  3. It’s amazing what pride and vanity can do to a person! It’s not unfair to say that President Aquino was a political non-entity before the death of his mother, Cory. He’s doing everything he can to make it appear his administration is going to be the most substantial among all presidencies. But so far, in my view, these are all smoke and mirrors. His ascent to the presidency and all the “accomplishments” credited to his brand of ‘good governance’ look good on paper at first glance but they actually consist only of a jobless growth, a selective campaign against graft and corruption, automated elections that have dubious paper and electronic trail, and now sleight-of-hand tricks in peace negotiations. This is how Aquino’s circle hopes it’s going to work: He promises heaven and earth to the MILF to draw them to the peace table, thereby ensuring a ceasefire in Mindanao hostilities during his term (not bad). But in the middle of his term, he tells them, no way I can’t amend the Constitution to accommodate what you want. Three years for a peace process is a short time so all the mess will be left to the next President. By then, MILF has really run out of patience. So all the blood and gore will have to be cleaned up by the next government. In the meantime, the survey firms will regularly trot out “surveys” showing high approval ratings for Aquino despite widespread poverty, increasing jobless rate and less-than-stellar responses to crisis situations (disasters, Sabah conflict, etc). By the way, I agree with another poster on the proposal of federalism. I’m seriously interested in it — allowing regions enough autonomy to pursue their economic development. Anything is better than what we have now.

  4. Samuel Santos on

    With PNoy’s sustained high satisfaction rating in the SWS and Pulse Asia surveys, I won’t be shocked if he wins the Nobel Peace Prize, before his term expires.

  5. From the very beginning, the president and his so called peace expert had started at the wrong foot. The entirety of the Framework Agreement is clearly unconstitutional. The annexes on wealth, power, resources provides unimaginable violation of our constitution , yet this peace experts headed by Marvic “the traitor” Leonen continued to push for a hasty agreement undermining its constitutionality and practicality, not to mention that its action provides a recipe for a civil war in mindanao..more deadly than the decade old insurgency problem…

  6. Voice from the Wilderness on

    Indeed this charade on the peace agreement with MILF by this present inconsequential Regime is just for show to project that it is doing something but in fact it is doing nothing save for the personal ambition of its president. This cursed Cory Constitution will indeed be impossible to amend because it was hurriedly framed and rammed into the general public in the quest of Cory supporters to legitimize her accidental presidency Even if her son president will agree to amend it at this time, many will oppose it because there will be a suspicion that not only the provision on ARMM that will be amended but also the provision of term limit of the president will be amended especially now that this Regime has control over both houses of Congress.

  7. juanito melendres on

    If what Mr. R. Tiglao wrote is true, this will be the worst betrayal of any President thus far in the history of this country to achieve peace in Mindanao, if only for the purpose for the President to get nominated for the peace prize. As the peace process is placed in abeyance, and the MILF become suspicious, a possible violent reaction from them can ensue. Therefore, before blood is spilled, if not already, an immediate clarification from the president or his peace negotiators must be forth coming, ASAP to avert any catastrophe. This is a very serious matter, I hope Mr. Tiglao is wrong.

  8. best solution is convert to federalism. I think though that the aim of our Moro brothers is independence. thats why we have to be cautious in giving them autonomy. The ARMM would have been the best and should just be improved and make few changes to make it work or even change its officers and leadership with transparency. Im for autonomy for them but in a limited way with the federal gov’t still in control. why not just copy the US style federalism. didn’t we copy their democracy? then we should have went to federalism too.