The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday was asked by a Mindanao and Muslim-based group not to declare unconstitutional an agreement forged by the government with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the proposed creation of a Bangsamoro entity.
In a petition-in-intervention before the SC, the Mindanao Coalition of Developments (Mincode) pushed for the junking of the separate petitions of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras assailing the constitutionality of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), including the earlier Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its annexes.
Mincode is a coalition that includes Caucus of Development NGO Networks, Mindanao Peoples Caucus Inc., United Youth for Peace Development, Bangsamoro Alliance for Peace, Social and Economic Development and several other individuals.
It said the pending Bangsamoro Basic Law in Congress is needed to attain lasting peace in Mindanao.
“We believe that both FAB and CAB are instruments in the attainment of social justice and in transformational developments in the Bangsamoro region, which have perpetually suffered both political and economic marginalization,” the petition read.
Mincode argued that FAB and CAB are totally different from the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), which was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2008 because the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) then was “a state and the same is on its way to independence.”
“We adhere and uphold the position of the framers of the Constitution and the Peace Council who made evaluative study of the documents, including the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Bill, that these are constitutional, and thus, we find it grossly irresponsible for other groups who wanted to nullify, restrict and deter the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement for the Bangsamoro forged from 17 years of negotiations in the interest of human rights, equal protection, and right to self-determination, all under regime of peace,” the petition read.
FAB and CAB were questioned before the High Court and were ordered to be consolidated.
The comment shall cover both petitions as the petitioners were ordered to submit their respective comments to the petitions and prayer for temporary restraining order (TRO).
Named respondents to the case in the Philconsa petition are Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, in his capacity as former chairman of the GPH panel, who negotiated and executed the FAB; Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, chairman of the government panel at present, who negotiated and executed the CAB; the MILF, represented by Mohagher Igbal; Budget Secretary Florencio Abad; and the Commission on Audit.
Named respondents in Paras’ petition are Ferrer, Senen Bacani, Yasmin Busran-Lao, Mehil Sadain and adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles.
Leonen has voluntarily inhibited from hearing the petitions since he spearheaded negotiations with the MILF.
The High Court stated that both agreements were just a mere revival of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, which was passed by the Arroyo administration with the MILF.
The memorandum later on was declared unconstitutional by the tribunal in October 2008.
Philconsa, through its president, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, stated that the agreements violated Section 1, Article X of the Constitution, which authorizes and recognizes only five territorial and political subdivisions–provinces, cities, municipalities, barangay (villages) and autonomous regions.
Other petitioners joining Philconsa are former senator Francisco Tatad, former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales and Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, Fernando Capalla of Davao and Romulo de la Cruz of Zamboanga.