Lawmaker: Peace deal insults Constitution
MANILA, Philippines – A Mindanao lawmaker on Tuesday slammed the sealed Bangsamoro framework agreement before the House of Representatives on Tuesday, noting that it failed to respect the Constitution in its provisions.
Zamboanga City Representative Celso Lobregat said the framework did mention the Constitution but only to say that it would need to be amended to accommodate the provisions of the peace pact.
“Nowhere in the annexes that it mentioned the Constitution as the guiding light in the agreement…It is a disrespect to not even mention the Constitution….” he said during the Mindanao and Muslim affairs committee hearing attended by members of the peace panel of government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
He also expressed fears that the framework would suffer the fate of the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) under the Arroyo administration that was later struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.
The MOA-AD called for the establishment of a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, which would have given the MILF a sovereign state replete with its own police and banking system.
Present at the hearing, government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said the agreement did not diminish the Constitution.
“Nothing in the annex or framework diminishes the Philippine Constitution. It allows for the enhancement for in so far as putting to light several provisions of the Constitution,” she said.
The MILF and the Philippine government signed the last annex of the Bangsamoro framework on Saturday, sealing the deal in a bid to end the decades-long secessionist movement in Mindanao.
The comprehensive agreement would be the basis of the basic law that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with the new Bangsamoro entity.
The law would be crafted by a transitory committee formed by the president. Once certified as urgent, the proposed measure would need to be passed by Congress.
Two days after the signing of the normalization annex, government troops clashed with hardline Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters opposed to the government’s newly concluded peace deal with a main insurgent group.
The encounter took place in Barongis town in Maguindanao and killed at least two rebels.
The clash underscored the difficulty of ending violence in Mindanao despite the widely hailed conclusion over the weekend of Malaysian-brokered peace talks between the government and the 11,000-strong MILF.
At least four other smaller rebel groups threaten the peace in Mindanao, including the BIFF, which took part in Monday’s fighting.
With the inking of the final annex, the Philippine government and the MILF are set to approve the much-awaited comprehensive peace deal.
The peace deal has been the most significant progress made over 13 years of negotiations to tame a tenacious insurgency that has left more than 120,000 people dead and crippled development in Muslim-populated southern regions that are among the poorest in the country.
The pact calls for the Moro insurgents to end violence in exchange for broader autonomy. An existing five-province Muslim autonomous region is to be replaced by a more powerful, better-funded and potentially larger region to be called Bangsamoro, which would be secured by a force composed of former guerrillas.
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