No law yet, nothing to declare unconstitutional
The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is still a legislative measure pending in Congress. There’s nothing to declare unconstitutional.
This in effect, was the statement made by the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, dismissing a petition asking it to declare unconstitutional the proposed law that seeks to create a new Bangsamoro political entity in the country’s southern Mindanao region.
“This case was dismissed for being premature,” SC spokesman Theodore Te said in a news conference, referring to the petition filed by a certain Rolando Mijares.
The High Court, moreover, ordered the Philippine government to comment within 10 days on two separate petitions seeking to void two agreements it had signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), namely the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
The FAB, which was signed in 2012, calls for the creation of an autonomous political entity to replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The agreement served as the basis in drafting the proposed BBL.
The petitions were filed by the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras.
In its 26-page petition, the Philconsa, led by its president Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and former senator and The Manila Times columnist Francisco Tatad, asked the SC to order the Department of Budget and Management not to release funds meant to pursue or implement the FAB, CAB and BBL.
The Philconsa said the balance of unspent funds intended for the contested deals should instead be returned to the National Treasury.
It also sought an order to disallow the Commission on Audit from auditing funds and expenses incurred by the government panel.
The petitioners also want government peace panel members, particularly Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen and Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, be admonished and warned “to be more prudent and cautious in dealing with the amorphous, self-styled entity, exclusively to the exclusion of other Muslims, Christians and lumads.”
Leonen was chairman of the peace panel when the FAB was signed while his successor, Ferrer, was the signatory to the CAB.
In his separate petition, Paras asked Leonen to inhibit from hearing his petition since he was one of the signatories to the FAB.
SC spokesman Te, at Tuesday’s news conference, announced that Leonen has voluntarily inhibited himself from participating in cases involving the FAB, CAB and BBL.
“Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen who was the chairman of the government negotiating panel that negotiated the Framework Agreement for the Bangsamoro before being appointed to the Supreme Court has voluntarily inhibited himself from participation in the pending cases and any future cases involving the FAB, CAB and BBL,” he said.
Paras said both the FAB and CAB did not conform with the consultation requirement under Executive Order 3 and Memorandum of Instructions of the President, in violation of the constitutional right of the people to information on matters of public concern under Section 7, Article III of the Constitution.
He argued that the FAB and CAB are similar to the Memorandum of
Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), which he said was negotiated and signed without any public consultation.
The High Court had declared the MOA-AD unconstitutional.