Palace: Peace pact with MILF constitutionally defensible

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Thursday, April 3, 2014


THE comprehensive peace pact that the Philippine government forged with the largest Muslim rebel group is constitutional and could not be a ground for President Benigno Aquino III's impeachment, a Palace official said Thursday.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda made the statement following the observation of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) violates the 1987 Constitution.

"The Bangsamoro Agreement was crafted keeping in mind that it should be within the flexibilities of the Constitution," he said when asked if Aquino could be impeached following Santiago's statement that the CAB "violates the principle of constitutional supremacy."

Lacierda stressed, "We adhere to the belief that Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is constitutionally defensible."

The senator, who is chairperson of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, said that the CAB establishes not a mere autonomous region as provided for by the Constitution, but a substate, which will exercise certain sovereign powers that should be reserved only for the central government.

Meanwhile, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said her panel appreciates Santiago's insights and opinion on the CAB, which was inked on March 27 by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

She assured the senator and the public that through every stage of the negotiations, "we remained ever mindful of the President's instructions that any agreement we must conclude must be within the framework of the 1987 Constitution, and accordingly, the roadmap set by the CAB leads to Congress as the established lawmaking institution."

She said her panel would be seeking a meeting with Santiago and other legislators to extensively discuss the different provisions in the CAB and to allow for a deeper understanding of the context and substance of the documents.

In the meantime, Ferrer said the panel was waiting for the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to finish its draft bill on the Bangsamoro, which will be endorsed by the President as an administration bill to Congress for their due consideration and passage at the soonest possible time.

She said the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), as enacted by Congress, shall serve as the organic act for the autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao provided for in the 1987 Constitution.

The 15-man BTC headed by MILF peace panel head Mohagher Iqbal initially targeted to complete and submit the draft BBL to the President on March 31.

But it failed to meet its self-imposed deadline and sought for more time to finish the BBL draft. (SDR/Sunnex)

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