DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 Oct) – Give the Bangsamoro a day in court.
Datu Michael Mastura, lawyer and historian and direct descendant of the hero Sultan Kudarat, filed Tuesday an urgent motion to intervene before the Supreme Court in defense of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and three other petitioners want the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional.
In his motion, Mastura, a member of the 1971 Constitutional Convention, a representative of Maguindanao senior member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel, said he seeks to intervene in the case in his “personal capacity as a native born successor generation of Moro ancestry and as bearer of heritage of indigenous institutions in Muslim Mindanao seeking to assert a ‘public right’ to political identity on equal protection grounds and ‘parity of esteem’ on ‘judicially made’ policy, not constitutional rulings.”
Mastura filed his Urgent Motion for Leave to Intervene and to Admit Attached Comment-in-Intervention at the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning in the presence of, among others, Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Abulkhayr Alonto of a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front; members of the peace panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front — Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga and Roberto Maulana, Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo of the Bangsamoro Study Group, Sulu human rights defender and candidate for governor Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie, Sister Arnold Marie Noel and Mary Ann Arnado of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus and Bawgbug.
Hataman was quoted by GMA News as saying that “maging ang autonomous regional government any naghahanda rin ng sariling intervention, bago matapos ang taon ay maghhain din kami dahil sa paniniwala ho naming na walang legal reason o anupamang argument ang pwedeng humadlang para sa kapayapaan ng Mindanao” (even the autonomous regional government is preparing to file its own intervention before the year ends because of its belief that no legal reason or whatever argument can stand in the way of peace in Mindanao).
The Philconsa filed with the Supreme Court on June 19 a 26-page petition to declare unconstitutional the peace agreements signed by the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The Philconsa, headed by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and former Senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad, were accompanied by fellow petitioners Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo dela Cruz and retired Davao City Archbishop Fernando Capalla, and former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzalez.
Gonzales and the archbishops are members of the National Transformation Council (NTC) which called on President Aquino to step down after the January 25 tragedy in Mamasapano.
The petitioners also 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) which is still under deliberation in the two houses of Congress.
The FAB was signed on October 15, 2012 by then government peace panel chair Marvic Leonen (now Supreme Court Associate Justice) and MILF chair Mohagher Iqbal while the CAB was signed on March 27, 2014 by government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and the MILF’s Iqbal.
Mastura said allowing him to intervene “will provide an opportunity for the Bangsamoro people to be heard before the Supreme Court as their own identity is pilloried, their allegiance to this Republic harshly questioned, and their genuine aspiration for freedom, justice and peace repeatedly suppressed by the sheer tyranny of the majority of this country.”
“The cardinal rule on due process dictates that before this Honorable Supreme Court exercises its power of judicial review and decide on the fate of the FAB and the CAB, the Bangsamoro people through this intervention, need first to be heard and properly understood,” Mastura said in his motion.
In his 82-page Comment in Intervention, Mastura presented his arguments and prayed that the Supreme Court dismiss the petitions for lack of merit; restore the status quo ante to allow for continuity in the peace process to set the transition process after the completion of legislating devolution up to the ratification stage ending with a plebiscite.”
Matura also asked the Supreme Court to “uphold the birthright of every Moro man and woman to call or ascribe to the Bangsamoro self-identity on the basis of shared common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage as enshrined under Section 15, Article 10 of the Constitution” and “reverse its previous ruling assuming identity must be determinate to bar any modification to the statutory definition provided under RA No. 9054 of Bangsamoro People,” adding the decision “is in itself a constitutive denial of a birthright to call or ascribe self identity under a given name.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)