The Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and a former congressman asked the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday to declare unconstitutional the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which negotiators from the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed in 2014.
Two similar petitions were filed earlier by lawyer Oliver Lozano and a certain Rolando Mijares.
An SC source, however, said the justices would likely dismiss the cases for being premature.
Ma;acanang deputy l spokesman Abigail Valte questioned the timing of the filing of the petitions
“It is interesting that these challenges to the FAB and CAB come at this time, more than a year after both were signed,” she said in a text message to reporters.
The government signed the FAB with the MILF in October 2012, and the CAB in March last year.
Valte said they are confident that government lawyers would be able to defend the signing of the peace agreement before the Supreme Court.
“Government will be ready to answer once the Supreme Court directs us to do so,” she added.
In its 26-page petition, Philconsa, led by its president Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and former senator and The Manila Times columnist Francisco “Kit” Tatad asked the high tribunal to stop the Department of Budget and Management from releasing funds to pursue or implement the FAB, the CAB and the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Joining Romualdez and Tatad in the petition were Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, Archbishop Fernando Capalla, Archbishop Romulo de la Cruz and former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales.
Romualdez is the first cousin of Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, which rejected the draft BBL.
Philconsa said the balance of unspent funds intended for the contested deals should instead be returned to the National Treasury.
Also, the petitioners asked that the Commission on Audit be barred from auditing funds and expenses incurred by the government peace panel that negotiated with the MILF.
The chairman of the government peace panel should also be admonished and be 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,” the Philconsa said.
Supreme Court Justice Marvic Leonen headed the peace panel when the FAB was signed while his successor, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, signed the CAB.
According to the Philconsa, Leonen, thru the FAB, “agreed and granted unimaginable social, economic, political and financial benefits to the MILF which the executive department may not legally grant without the concurrence of the legislative or the judicial department, or without first amending the 1987 Constitution.”
It argued that the peace process was flawed because it excluded other rebel groups from the negotiations, namely the Moro National Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
“The peace process should be defined by all Filipinos as one community, not by the GPNP [government peace negotiating panel]and MILF panels only,” the petition read.
Philconsa also accused Leonen and Ferrer of usurping a power they did not have when they committed to cause the amendment of the 1987 Philippine Constitution and existing laws to conform with the FAB and CAB.
“The FAB and CAB are nothing but toxic intellectual contortions meant to delude and deceive the people into believing that they could take them as a panacea for their organic ills when they were actually designed to subvert them,” the petition read.
“In agreeing to replace the ARMM [Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao] with the Bangsamoro, in violation of the Constitution and existing laws, without first amending the Constitution and pertinent laws, the FAB and the CAB have caused undue injury to the government and inflicted a fatal wound upon the Constitution,” it said.
In former congressman Jacinto Paras’ petition, he argued that that the CAB and FAB violated the consultation requirement under Executive Order 3, and memorandum of instructions of the President; executed in excess of authority for the guarantee that “certain provisions of the 1987 Constitution will be amended to suit the provisions of the [CAB and FAB]; are violative of the Constitution for describing the Bangsamoro’s relationship with the national government as “asymmetric,” providing for “territorial waters;” allowing a parliamentary form of government; the creation of an own auditing body; and grant of concurrent and exclusive powers.”
“By allowing a violation of the Constitution, the law, and the settled jurisprudence, respondents acted in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction,” his petition read.
WITH CATHERINE S. VALENTE