• Funds, power and peace

    Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia

    Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia

    These days one would not be surprised with so many alphabet soup of funds being invented and used wantonly for political ends. One can conclude PH is a rich country pretending to be poor or PH is a poor country with its leaders always raking in money for their political future.

    There is the PDAF and its permutations, which the Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional together with Malampaya and PSF when used for purposes other than it was established. Then there is the DAP which we hope the Supreme Court will declare unconstitutional for surely such acts of the DBM Secretary has no basis in law. Then again, there is the Agrarian Reform Fund (ARF), created by law and yet implemented in a way that violates the law. So, who is accountable? Interestingly, the DBM Secretary peddles lies from faked SAROs to faked beneficiaries, etc. So, which is which? How can all these things be happening under your watch? Who should we blame?

    Wielding of power betrays character
    It used to be power would give a public servant the wherewithal to serve. How one wields power show character. These days, one would need a lot of money to wield power.

    Some even go to the extent of using influence to force a decision that really is outside the ambit of the Supreme Court or a change in settled doctrine. But then again, if it is the son of an incumbent Justice involved, a straight reading of the facts become shaky. It is settled that that the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal acquires sole jurisdiction over any contest relating to the “election, returns and qualifications” of House members, and that any question on the validity of the proclamation falls under the sole jurisdiction of the HRET. The Representative of the Lone District of Marinduque was proclaimed by Comelec with 52, 209 votes while her closest opponent had 48, 236 votes. She took her oath of office before the Speaker in the present Congress. How can the Supreme Court have jurisdiction over her? The ponente was Associate Justice Jose Portugal Perez. Two (Leonardo-De Castro and Reyes) concurred with Perez while Abad and the Chief Justice issued separate concurring opinions. Four justices (Carpio, Brion, Villarama and Leonen) issued dissenting opinions and five justices had no part in the decision (Velasco, Peralta, Bersamin, Mendoza, Perlas-Bernabe), with one on official leave.

    Last Sunday, 8 December 2013, the MILF and the GPH signed the Annex on Power Sharing. A friend asked me why is it that peace documents are often signed Sundays and negotiations happen on weekends? I guess so one can frame the message early and prepare for the days when the public gets hold of the document itself.

    Under the Framework signed last 15 October 2012, the core territory of the Bangsamoro “shall be composed of: a) the present geographical area of the ARMM; b) the Municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in the province of Lanao del Norte and all barangay in the Municipalities of Kabacan, Carmen, Aleoson, Pigkawayan, Pikit, Midsayap that voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite; c) the cities of Cotabato and Isabela; and d) all other contiguous areas where there is a resolution of the local government unit or a petition of at least ten percent (10%) of the qualified voters in the area asking for their inclusion at least two months prior to the conduct of the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the process of delimitation of the Bangsamoro.”

    In between the October 2012 and December 2013 were events that need to be carefully considered: ARMM election where the officer-in-charge who said he will not run for the position got elected; Sabah issue and the Zamboanga City siege which happened because of bum intelligence on both sides, GPH and MNLF.

    Failed experiment
    ARMM was said to be a failed experiment and now that ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman is in position would this conclusion still hold water? Sabah and MNLF are still pending and have not been resolved, so comes now Bangsamoro, which would need a congressional approval before it becomes a reality.

    Under the signed Annex on Power Sharing, the negotiations resulted in three (3) types of power sharing: reserved, concurrent and exclusive. “Reserved are powers or matters over which authority and jurisdiction are retained by the Central Government. Concurrent powers shall refer to the shared powers between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government, as contained in this Annex and as shall be further provided in the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Exclusive power refers to powers or matters over which authority and jurisdiction pertain to the Bangsamoro Government.”

    The Central Government retains reserved powers over nine areas: “Defense and external security, foreign policy, coinage and monetary policy, postal service, citizenship and naturalization, immigration, customs and tariff, common market and global trade and IPR.”

    The Bangsamoro Government shall have exclusive powers that it exercises within its territorial jurisdiction, over 58 matters, such as “contract loans, credits and other forms of indebtedness except those requiring sovereign guaranty; trade, industry, investment; economic zones and industrial centers; free ports; regulate power generation, transmission and distribution operating exclusively in the Bangsamoro; regulations on manufacture and distribution of foods, drinks, drugs and tobacco for the welfare of the Bangsamoro; ancestral domain and natural resources; land management, land distribution and agricultural land use reclassification; cadastral land survey; environment, parks, forest management; inland waterways and navigation; management, regulation and conservation of all fishery, marine and aquatic resources.”

    On four issues, transportation and communication; mineral and energy resources; taxation and powers already devolved, principles were laid out subject to consultations and further negotiations.

    Peace is a lot of hard work. Hubris has no part of it. In the case with our Muslim brothers, peace is hard to hold on to but dare if we must for that will end centuries of strife and lack of trust. And as we lay Madiba to rest, we must take to heart what he left: “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”


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