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Ex-SC chief Puno calls for Cha-cha to achieve peace in Mindanao

/ 05:03 PM June 02, 2015

RETIRED Chief Justice Reynato Puno pushes for a Charter change to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao.

In a statement Tuesday, Puno said the BBL is “vulnerable,” and is leaning toward unconstitutionality, which could be the subject of future disputes.

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“If you have that kind of dispute, you have the danger [of] the Bangsamoro saying, ‘that’s it, we don’t want anymore this kind of arrangement,” he said.

Puno said the best solution is to call for the convening of a constitutional convention (Con-con) to propose changes in the 1987 Constitution.

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A Con-Con is among the three modes of Charter change mentioned under the 1987 Charter. The other modes are People’s Initiative and Constitutional Assembly.

Puno said BBL is only possible under a federal-parliamentary form of government, which is not allowed under the existing Charter.

“We are limited by the boundaries of power set in the 1987 Constitution. The powers in the Constitution are centralized in the national government,” Puno pointed out.

Earlier, another retired Supreme Court Associate Justice and a noted constitutionalist shared Puno’s view.

Retired SC Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza said certain provisions of the draft BBL are unconstitutional, including the part that allows the creation of a parliamentary form of government in the Bangsamoro region.

“The provisions on the Bangsamoro government are unconstitutional. Must our Constitution be violated in order to have peace and development in Mindanao? You can have peace and development without violating the Constitution,” Mendoza said.

“You can’t have a parliamentary form of government under the present system. That’s contrary to the Constitution,” said Mendoza, who served as a high court justice from 1994 to 2003.

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Mendoza said that under the BBL, a parliamentary government for the Bangsamoro entity “makes it asymmetrical to the government of the Philippines and symmetrical to government of the federation of Malaysia.”

To remedy the flaws, he said either scrap the unconstitutional provision of the BBL or amend the 1987 Constitution.

Puno said a Con-con is also timely because its members may be elected in the 2016 elections.

Some may also be appointed as sectoral representatives or from among national luminaries to provide a good mix of delegates.

He said a “win-win” situation can be obtained through Con-con as it provides a better platform in examining the Bangsamoro problem.

“If we reexamine this issue (BBL) through the Con-con, then we’ll be able to remedy all these perceived defects in the law,” Puno said.

“The search for peace in Mindanao should be a continuing search. We should never give up the search for peace in Mindanao come what may,” he added.

According to Puno, the 1987 Constitution provides that the national government can only delegate certain powers, which are subject to many conditions and are not permanently delegated, as in the case of BBL.

“The national government can always take these powers. In other words, even you have this BBL, it is a temporary solution.

“In other words, if you have the Con-con, and the Con-con rearranges the division of power between the national government and the entities like the BBL, or the entities that will be forming the federal state, or the sub-state, then you will have a permanent solution to this problem.”

He said this kind of solution will be the subject of a nationwide plebiscite, meaning “it’s the whole Filipino people who will approve this, not only the people in Mindanao or in the affected areas.” AC

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Charter change, constitutional convention, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno
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