MIND DA NEWS: Don’t Dismiss the Petitions

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindNews/28 June) — The petitions of the Philconsa (Philippine Constitution Association) and Jacinto Paras, former congressman from Negros Oriental, to declare unconstitutional, illegal and void the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro (FAB), its Annexes and the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) have not yet been given due course by the Supreme Court and may still be dismissed (Philippine Star, June 27, 2015: Petitions vs Bangsamoro deal may still be dismissed).

According to Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te, the Court’s decision to hear or dismiss the petitions depends on the comments of the respondents — chief peace negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel head Mohagher Iqbal, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and the Commission on Audit.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the first chairman of the Philippine negotiating panel under the Aquino government, was named a respondent for signing the FAB. However, he would not be required to comment on the petitions contrary to an earlier report. He has inhibited himself from the cases.

Should the Court give the petitions due course, Leonen must do more than just inhibiting himself. He must file a leave during the pendency of the case to fully defend his action. If the FAB is declared unconstitutional, he must resign. Violation of the constitution is an indelible and an intolerable blot in the records of a Supreme Court justice.

The FAB, the Annexes and the CAB are not implementable. Unless enacted into a law, what they allegedly will do to the country and the Filipino people is harmless. It is the Basic Bangsamo Law, the organic law to establish the Bangsamoro now pending in the Congress, that will implement them. Can this be considered a technicality for the dismissal of the petitions? There can be some other probable technicalities. Can insincerity of the petitioners be among these?

To the point: Norberto Gonzales, one of the petitioners, was a member of the cabinet of President Arroyo. The Cabinet asked Libya’s President Muammar Khaddafy to host the GRP-MILF meeting for the resumption of the peace talks in 2001 leading to the signing of the 2001Tripoli Agreement, the framework of the negotiation. Gonzales arranged the meeting of President Arroyo and Malaysia’s Prime Minister Badawi to reopen the peace talks in 2009. Yet, the Petition questions the holding of the talks in Kuala Lumpur.

From the Philconsa petition, it can be discerned that the real motive of the petitioners is to abort House Bill No. 5811, the revised version of HB 4994 adopting Draft BBL that will establish Bangsamoro according to the FAB and the Annexes. Rep. Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, the Philconsa president and lead petitioner, is the leader of the opposition bloc in the House of Representatives against the BBL. The shortest way to defeat BBL is to have the Court void its source on grounds of unconstitutionality.

The Court must hear the petitions on merit, disregarding all probable technicalities. This is a rare opportunity for the Court to:

  • Rule on the issues of national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the core of the opposition to the grant of autonomy to the Moros;
  • Explain how Sections 15 to 21 of Article X of the 1987 Constitutions relate to the entire Constitution in defining and establishing regional autonomies and to certain national laws; and,
  • Clarify the implications of the 2008 Court Decision declaring the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain on the CAB, the consolidation of the FAB, the Annexes and other Agreements since 1997.

Re-“(1)”: National sovereignty is essentially the reason for questioning the holding of the Philippine Government-Moro Islamic Liberation Front negotiations in Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia as the facilitator and the involvement of international groups. But all previous peace negotiations with the Moro National Liberation Front were held abroad with the participation of the Organization of Islamic Conference (now “Cooperation”).

National sovereignty is essentially the reason for the objections to the grant of autonomous powers to the Moros and concessions for the autonomy to be meaningful and stable. But these are based on Sections 15 to 21 of Article X.

Territorial integrity is essentially the reason for questioning provisions in Draft BBL pertinent to the establishment of Bangsamoro and its territorial or political composition. Of special concern are Section 18 of Article X in relation to Section 1 and Section 19 in relation to the proposed abolition of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to be replaced by the Bangsamoro.

Re-“(2)”: Evidently, the Government and MILF vouch for the constitutionality of Draft BBL, faithfully crafted from the FAB and the Annexes, based on Sections 15 to 21 of Article X. The Congress and other BBL assail its constitutionality citing other provisions of the 1987 Constitution and certain national laws.

Re-“(3)”: The Philconsa petitioners cite the MOA-AD Decision and the concurring decisions of the Justices to support their arguments. But, obviously, opponents of BBL are citing the MOA-AD Decision for their convenience. In agreeing on July 29, 2008 to resume the peace talks and in fleshing this out in the following December, the GRP-MILF panels must have heeded the Court’s suggestion to renegotiate the MOA-AD and its assurance of the President’s role and authority in negotiating peace with the rebels.

The Government, MILF and their supporters should welcome the petitions. They should urge the Supreme Court to hear the case — inviting intervenors and friends of the court and finishing it before the Congress opens its Third Regular Session in the last week of July. They should challenge the Congress to restore the provisions of Draft BBL it has deleted should the Court uphold the constitutionality and legality of the FAB, the Annexes and the CAB.

[Author’s Note: Mind da News, the alternate of COMMENT, is a comment on current news. The author may be contacted at patponcediaz@yahoo.com.]

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  1. Interesting how this article is allowing the petitions to push through. However, the points raised here are not something I have thought of before. Can it be possible that entertaining the petitions would lead to a debate and clarifications on what the original draft of the BBL intended?

  2. Kung alam naman pala na walang basehan yung mga petitions na yan, bakit pa pag-aaksayahan pa ng panahon yan? Pamimilosopo at pamumulitika na lang ang ginagawa nila. Ipasa na nila ang BBL and hayaan na natin SC magdecide sa constitutionality ng BBL.

  3. why dont you just follow the order of the SC? what is the use of what you are doing if the senate is already working on their own version of the bill? political reasons? media coverage? such a selfish act

  4. Only the SC can tell if BBL is unconstitutional. So let’s just leave it all to them and move on. Tagal na dapat ng BBL eh. Ipasa na yan!

  5. Ang masasabi ko lang dyan eh SC lang ang makakapag sabi. In fact I thing this was already discussed. Paulit ulit na lang. Time to pass the BBL! Do not delay peace!

  6. sus halata namang puro pamumulitika lang tong petition na to eh. Tama na please sa pamimilisopo at pagbabaliko ng isip naming mga Pilipino, maganda ang hangarin ng BBL if we only just open our eyes, mind and heart.. This is for the goodness of the Filipino in Mindanao. SAVE the BBL

  7. The Anti-BBl statements one reads (unconsti, separate state, auto opt-in
    etc) simply recycles old arguments many of them clarified and addressed already
    by the substitute bill in the House. The Senate will come up with its own
    version. marcos and other selfish politicians can have the credit, all the credit they wants, just please give
    the BBL already to Mindanao.

  8. The Anti-BBl statements one reads (unconsti, separate state, auto opt-in etc) simply recycles old arguments many of them clarified and addressed already by the substitute bill in the House. The Senate will come up with its own version. Marcos and other selfish politicians can have the credit, all the credit they wants, just please give the BBL already to Mindanao. Don’t delay this bill.

  9. If the BBL is not passed, when will it be passed? Tomorrow is Congress last session. It will adjourn until October only to make way for the filing of candidacies for 2016 of Marcos, Duterte, Cayetano, Miriam, Atienza, Alunan, and all those who stood in the way of the BBL’s passage. That is the tragedy of the BBL.

  10. he only way is up for Mindanao. BBL to spur economic growth — NEDA. This is a dream and it is within the grasp of Filipinos and Filipino Muslims to develop that area and to help it become productive and start making strong contributions to the PH economy. As it is now the region has been awfully neglected, war torn, desolate. It is in our hands!

  11. In the guise of “perfecting the BBL” Bongbong Marcos has plainly sat on the aspirations of Muslim Filipinos and done NOTHING. He has ignored a substitute bill that has already addressed the concerns regarding constitutionaility in the original draft. Like the empty slogans of the Anti-BBL movement, Bongbong has not done anything to advance the cause of Peace in Mindanao. Malayu kasi kayo sa problema sa Mindanao. Siguro okay sa inyo ang status quo dito sa Luzon. Sa Mindanao, status quo means the sound of gunfire disturbing peace any and every hour of the day. the status quo there is hunger.

  12. Ang nagbibingibingihan di ka talaga maririnig. that is the tragedy of the BBL and those who have been defending it explaining the roots of the Muslim Mindanao situation and how the BBL addresses it. They were never listened to


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