SC Issues Final Ruling That MoA-AD Is Unconstitutional

Manila Bulletin, November 22, 2008 | Go to article overview

SC Issues Final Ruling That MoA-AD Is Unconstitutional


The Supreme Court (SC) has declared final its ruling that the Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain (MoA- AD) of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines-Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001 is contrary to law and the Constitution.

In a one-page full court resolution, the SC said:

"Acting on the motions for reconsideration of the decision dated Oct. 14, 2008, the court resolved to deny with finality the said motions, as the basic issues raised therein have been passed upon by this court and no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision."

The resolution denied the motions for reconsideration filed by the Muslim Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc., the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, and the Bangsamoro Women Solidarity Forum, Inc.

In the Oct. 14, 2008 decision written by Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, the SC - in an 8-7 vote -- denied the motion of the government, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), to dismiss five petitions challenging the constitutionality of the MoA-AD for being moot after the Executive Department has scrapped the agreement.

The SC, instead, granted the five petitions and enjoined the government from signing and executing the MoA-AD or similar agreements.

It ordered the government to conduct public consultations in any peace negotiations with the MILF.

Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno and Justices Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Antonio T. Carpio, Adolfo S. Azcuna and Ruben T. Reyes - who all wrote separate opinions - and Senior Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing and Justice Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez concurred in the decision.

Those who dissented and voted to dismiss the five petitions, both in the original petitions and in the resolution, were Justices Dante O. Tinga, Minita V. Chico-Nazario, Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura, Teresita J. Leonardo-de Castro and Arturo D. Brion -- who all wrote separate dissenting opinions. Justice Renato C. Corona joined in Justice Tinga's dissent.

The MoA-AD with MILF would set up the Bangsamoro Homeland with the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) as its governing body in the expanded Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Under the agreement, the BJE would have the power to set up its own security, trade, education, elections, and the right to explore and develop natural resources in the expanded ARMM.

The SC - in a unanimous vote of 15 justices after a full court session last Aug. 4 - stopped the signing of the agreement set on Aug. 5 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Thereafter, the SC conducted oral arguments on the petitions starting on Aug. 22.

The TRO was issued on petitions filed by the province of North Cotabato and the City of Zamboanga. Thereafter, the City of Iligan, the province of Zamboanga del Norte, and the group of Ernesto Maceda and Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay filed separate petitions. The groups of former Senate President Franklin M. Drilon and Senators Manuel Roxas and Aquilino Pimentel filed interventions in the cases.

With the TRO and the announcement of the Executive Department that it has junked the agreement and has decided to conduct another peace process, the OSG asked the SC to dismiss the five petitions for being moot and academic.

The SC said that the non-signing of the MoA-AD did not moot the petitions filed against it. "It bears emphasis that the signing of the MoA-AD did not push through due to the court's issuance of a temporary restraining order," it said.

In resolving the petitions and the motion filed by the OSG, the SC said:

"In sum, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to carry out the pertinent consultation process, as mandated by EO No. 3, RA 7160, and RA 8371. The furtive process by which the MoA-AD was designed and crafted runs contrary to and in excess of the legal authority, and amounts to a whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary and despotic exercise thereof. …

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