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‘Flaws’ in Moro peace deal cited

/ 05:58 AM May 14, 2014

The signing of the historic Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB)

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Constitution Association has warned lawmakers that the peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was sprinkled with “illegal commitments” and “unconstitutional provisions” which could cause chaos and instability.

Manuel Lazaro, Philconsa chair, noted during a briefing organized by the independent bloc in the House of Representatives on Monday that certain provisions contained in the annexes of the comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro may require constitutional changes to be valid.

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The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is a peace deal between the government and the MILF. It will give rise to a new Bangsamoro region that will replace the Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

In a position paper marked “Initial Observations,” Philconsa questioned the “asymmetric” relationship between the central government and the Bangsamoro government.

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‘Tricky’

It said this meant it had no fixed and agreed meaning. “It is nothing and everything. It is tricky—(a) treacherous word,” the Philconsa said.

It also questioned the gradual phasing and transfer of law enforcement functions from the Armed Forces of the Philippines to the police force of the Bangsamoro.

“We cannot have two armed forces. This is a no-no. This is risking the security, territory and people outside Bangsamoro and planting the seeds of rebellion, secession,” it said.

Wealth sharing

It also raised concerns about the annex on revenue generation and wealth sharing.

It provides that the current 50-50 mineral revenue sharing between the national government and the ARMM would only be retained with regard to uranium and fossil fuels such as petroleum, natural gas and coal.

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The Bangsamoro’s share for metallic minerals would be 75 percent, while it would get all nonmetallic resources. Its regional legislature would also be able to postpone the remittance of the national government’s share of the revenues for a limited, but unspecified, period.

But the Philconsa said revenues from the ownership and exploitation of natural resources was a constitutional matter. The constitution states that all lands of public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum and other mineral oil, fisheries, forests, timber, wildlife and other natural resources are owned by the State.

By law, not by treaty

“Consequently, all revenues from the exploitation of natural resources should belong to the State. For 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,” it said.

The Bangsamoro territory is another contentious aspect.

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TAGS: Bangsamoro, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Peace agreement, peace process, Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), Philippines
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