Members of the government peace panel were taken to court on Thursday and accused of treason for pushing for enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Named respondents in the 34-page complaint filed with the Manila Prosecutors’ Office were chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer; Senen Bacani, Yasmin Busran-Lao and Mehol Sadain, all members of the peace panel; Zenonida Brosas, a former consultant to the peace panel; and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen was included in the complaint as a former chairman of the panel that negotiated peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Leonen was named to the High Court after the signing of a peace agreement between the government and the MILF in October 2012.
Officials and members of the MILF peace team were also included in the complaint.
Named respondents were Mohagher Iqbal, Datu Michael Mastura, Maulana Alonto, Abdulla Camilian, Datu Antonio Kino, Ibrahim Ali, Talib Abdulhamid Benito, Pedrito Eisma, Raissa Jajurie, Froilyn Mendoza, Hussein Muñoz, Akmad Sakkam, Said Shiek, Asani Tammang, Timuay Melanio Ulama and Johaira Wahab.
Signing the information as complainants were Buhay party-list Representatives Joselito
Atienza, Michael Velarde Jr. and Irwin Tieng; Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz; The Manila Times columnist Ambassador Jose Romero Jr.; and international law expert Jeremy Gatdula.
The proposed BBL is based on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace agreement signed between the Philippine government and the MILF.
The draft of the law was personally submitted by President Benigno Aquino 3rd to Congress on September 10, 2014.
The proposed BBL has been approved by the House Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL and the House ways and means committee.
Its counterpart measure in the Senate is undergoing review by the committee on local government.
The complainants alleged that the proposed law usurps the power of Congress to enact laws and gives the Bangsamoro not only autonomy as a local unit but also independence.
“The proposed BBL, in its entirety, promotes the eventual self-determination of the Bangsamoro political entity, which violates the sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines,” they said.
Citing a Supreme Court ruling, the complainants pointed out that “no sub-group within the Philippines is entitled to self-determination. Despite this ruling, the respondents still chose to include the sovereign concept of ‘self-determination’ in the BBL. Such persistence is a clear sign of intent to incite others to secede.”
They said the asymmetric relation between the Bangsamoro government and the national government has caused curtailment of power of the executive branch of the government.
According to them, some of the powers given to the Bangsamoro government that were supposed to be exclusive to the national government include the power to appoint and to create the Bangsamoro Commission on Audit and Shari’ah Supreme Court.
They pointed out that the Constitution only allows one Supreme Court and one Commission on Audit.
The BBL, the complainants said, allows, too, the Bangsamoro Parliament to also create provinces and cities and to collect taxes.
“The respondents’ strategy for inciting sedition or treason is comprehensive…The respondents also incite people to strip away the superiority of the National Government and to prevent the executive department to freely exercise its power as provided by the Constitution,” they added.