De Lima welcomes peace deal
MANILA, Philippines—Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Monday said the New Autonomous Political Entity (NPE) will take the place of the “failed” Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) organic act.
“We recognize that the Organic Act of ARMM has been a failed experiment [because] it produced the warlords, the Ampatuans,” De Lima told reporters but assured that it will not create a separate state.
“It was a good thing that the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) did not pursue for a sub-state. It was a sensitive issue. Why create a sub-state? This is just one state, one country,” De Lima told reporters Monday.
She explained that the national government will still maintain authority and control over “non-negotiable” powers such as the powers on defense and external security, foreign policy, common market and global trade, coinage and monetary policy, citizenship and naturalization and postal service.
“Here the Constitution will still prevail. Even the NPE would still be governed by the Constitution,” De Lima assured.
De Lima added that while the preliminary framework agreement between the government and the MILF provides for the need to strengthen the Shari’ah courts to expand jurisdiction over cases, it will still be under the supervision and control of the Supreme Court.
“We have just one Supreme Court. Any courts created under the basic law will still fall within the supervision and control of the Supreme Court,” De Lima said.
De Lima added that the Bangsamoro basic law will also be presented for ratification.
“The people from certain municipalities of Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato, Cotabato City and Isabela City in Basilan will be asked about it,” she said.
The breakthrough agreement came after 13 exploratory talks between the MILF and the Aquino administration.