Bangsamoro deal 'unconstitutional'

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014


(Updated) Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said Wednesday that the recently signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) is unconstitutional, since it "violates the principle of constitutional supremacy."

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.

Santiago, a former professor of constitutional law at the University of the Philippines, appeared to be particularly incensed by the agreement, which provides in Part 7, paragraph 4, subparagraph (b), that one of the functions of the Transition Commission is "to work on proposals to amend the Philippine Constitution for the purpose of accommodating and entrenching in the Constitution the agreements of the Parties whenever necessary without derogating from any prior past agreements."

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Santiago said that this provision is "beyond ridiculous."

"The basic function of a constitution is to list the powers of the state and to list the rights of the citizens. The Constitution is a list of sovereign powers that are reserved for the government, meaning to say, all the three branches. This is the principle of constitutional supremacy," she said.

"It is beyond ridiculous to state that the Philippine Constitution should accommodate the agreements of the Parties whenever necessary," she added.

After reciting this provision, Santiago said in her trademark expression: "Say again?! Wh a - a - a - t?! The agreement embodies the consent of the executive branch to amend the Philippine Constitution, in order to accommodate the agreement!"

Santiago also said that preliminary studies show that the agreement apparently contains provisions very similar to those contained in the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), which the Supreme Court previously declared as unconstitutional.

"Both the MOA-AD and the Bangsamoro Agreement appear to facilitate the secession of the Bangsamoro from our country, in a manner similar to the secession of Kosovo and Crimea," she said.

Santiago listed the reasons why she believes that the Bangsamoro will turn into a substate, as follows:

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

b. 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.

c. Allocation to the Bangsamoro of all powers exercised by the national government over local government units.

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

e. 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.”

f. 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.

g. The Agreement in Part 7, paragraph 4, subparagraph (b) enumerates the functions of the Transition Commission which at present is reportedly drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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