Moro deal illegal–Santiago | Inquirer News

Moro deal illegal–Santiago

MANILA, Philippines—The recently signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) appears to facilitate the secession of a Bangsamoro region from the country and, thus, is unconstitutional, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on Wednesday.

Santiago, chair of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of laws, said the historic agreement provides for the creation of a Bangsamoro “substate” instead of just an autonomous region as provided for under the Constitution.

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She added that the executive branch misrepresented itself in signing the agreement with the MILF when it called itself the Philippine government.

“The executive branch alone does not represent the Philippine government. Thus, the executive branch, in negotiating the agreement had no power to bind the two other branches—legislative and judicial,” Santiago told graduates of the Gordon College in Olongapo City.

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Santiago said “the executive branch not only exceeded its powers, but may have infringed upon the powers of the legislative branch.”

“When the executive branch misrepresenting itself as the Philippine government enters into an agreement with the rebel group, the result is not a mere autonomous region as provided for by our Constitution, but a substate,” Santiago said.

“Thus, the agreement is concluded between one branch mistakenly identifying itself as the government, and what will turn out to be a substate,” she added.

Reacting to Santiago’s remarks, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said Malacañang respected the senator’s views but maintained that both panels were guided by the Constitution in crafting the CAB.

“We respect Senator Santiago’s views. We affirm that throughout the PH-MILF negotiations on the CAB, the Philippine panel was guided by one basic principle—that all provisions of the agreement must be consistent with the Constitution,” he said.

He added that senators and representatives would review the proposed Bangsamoro basic law once the draft bill is submitted for their deliberations.

Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said the senator is a brilliant professor and an expert in constitutional law. “We certainly appreciate her insights and opinion on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.”

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Santiago said the agreement violated the supremacy of the Constitution.

She added that the agreement “not only reduces the sovereignty of the central government, but also provides that in the future, such sovereign powers as have been reserved may be further increased, provided the Bangsamoro agrees.”

“It will therefore be the Bangsamoro which will determine what should be the remaining sovereign powers of the central government,” Santiago said.

Santiago cited the following reasons why the Bangsamoro entity, which the CAB seeks, will be an unconstitutional substate:

— The powers of the central government shall be determined by the agreement, thus turning Bangsamoro into a substate;

— The Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao, which is provided for by the Constitution, will be abolished by mere agreement with the MILF, which is not surprising if you consider that the Bangsamoro has become a substate;

— Allocation to the Bangsamoro of all powers exercised by the national government over local government units;

— Although the Constitution provides that natural resources belong to the state, in the Bangsamoro territory, only Bangsamoro will have exclusive jurisdiction over natural resources;

— The Annex on Power Sharing gives to Bangsamoro so-called exclusive powers, which is defined as a tautology, as “powers or matters over which authority and jurisdiction pertain to the Bangsamoro government”;

— Only the Bangsamoro shall be under a ministerial form of government, while the rest of the country will operate under a presidential form of government;

— The agreement in Part 7, para. 4, subpara (b) provides that one of the functions of the Transition Commission is “to work on proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution for the purpose of amending and enriching in the Constitution the agreements of the parties whenever necessary without derogating from any prior peace agreement.”

“Say again?! What?! The agreement embodies the consent of the executive branch to amend the Philippine Constitution in order to accommodate the agreement! This is beyond ridiculous,” Santiago said.—With a report by TJ Burgonio

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Santiago: Bangsamoro deal unconstitutional

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