Retired CA justice warns House of Charter issues behind Bangsamoro deal
MANILA, Philippines – A retired Supreme Court justice warned the House of Representatives of the constitutional issues behind crafting the basic law that would implement the Bangsamoro framework agreement.
In a meeting with the independent bloc on Monday, Manuel Lazaro said it would not be easy to craft the law in such short notice for a deal that spanned years of peace negotiations between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“How can you expect Congress to come up with a law, wherein you are given only, let’s say, two months, three months?” said Lazaro, who is also chairman of the Philippine Constitution Association.
In his paper listing his observations, Lazaro said the Bangsamoro basic law is a “conundrum” because it would require “varied and numerous laws… and amendments to the Constitution.” Some provisions in the agreement require an amendment to the Charter.
“It may cause chaos and instability with treacherous fallouts rather than bring peace and prosperity,” he said.
For one, Lazaro said the executive branch had no power to bind Congress and judicial departments to pass the Bangsamoro basic law “unless the Executive believes Congress and Supreme Court are its lackeys.”
He added that sharing of revenues from natural resources and ownership of land is a constitutional matter and cannot be legislated through an agreement.
According to Section 2, Article 12 of the charter, “All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State.”
“For the Bangsamoro to share, it must be provided in the Constitution or the Constitution authorizes the sharing as provided by law, but certainly not through an agreement between the executive department and the MILF,” Lazaro said.
Lazaro added that armed forces under the Bangsamoro also go against the Charter.
“We cannot have two armed forces,” Lazaro said, referring to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Bangsamoro police force.
“This is a no-no. This is risking the security, territory and people outside the Bangsamoro and planting the seeds of rebellion and secession,” he added.
Congress is awaiting the submission of a Bangsamoro basic law that would implement the provisions of a framework agreement, the result of decades of peace process between the government and MILF. The government missed its self-proclaimed deadline of submitting the draft law on May 5.
Congress aims to pass the Bangsamoro law by year-end.
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