By declaring he will not push for the amendment of the Constitution, President Aquino has in effect junked the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement his representative Mario Victor Leonen signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in October 2012. That pact was hyped as the roadmap for peace in Mindanao.
MILF and government negotiators are merely pretending that whatever they agree upon will be implemented. That’s something that can’t happen because that would requireMost of the provisions of the Agreement require changing the Constitution, such as the establishment of a Bangasamoro state “asymmetric” with the Philippine Republic, the creation of its own police forces, and its ministerial form of government.
The main function of the Agreement’s Transition Commission (Part VII, paragraph b) 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 form any prior peace agreements.”
But Aquino announced May 21 that he would not exert any effort to amend the Constitution. He had in mind the clamor to amend the Constitution to allow ownership of land by foreigners, but he forgot having promised to amend the basic law to accommodate the Agreement with the MILF. It is the only way to implement the peace pact with the Muslim insurgent group.
The Constitution does not allow case-by-case amendments to it, for example one involving only the setting up of the Bangsamoro state, for ratification by the people. It requires either a Constitutional Convention or the Congress organized as such by a vote of three-fourths of all it members, which opens the Constitution to any amendment the members agree upon.
We are reasonably certain that the Agreement will be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and would require amending the Constitution because we have a very precise precedent.
In 2008, the Court ruled as unconstitutional the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain signed by President Arroyo’s negotiators, and yet it was just a proposal and not an agreement. All of the reasons the Court cited apply to the Aquino-MILF pact, as constitutional expert Fr. Joaquin Bernas and law professor Harry Roque have extensively explained in newspaper articles.
MILF leaders have been complaining that government negotiators are delaying the talks, asking the government that it go back to these issues, such as the one on wealth-sharing, which was agreed upon months before.
“Our commanders can’t wait forever”, Moro Islamic Liberation Front Ghadzali Jaafar angrily said, implying their fighters will renew their armed struggle if the peace talks with government fail.
Don’t they get it? With Aquino declaring that he will not push for the amendment of the Constitution, nearly all of the work of the Transition Commission will become purely, entirely academic, if not useless. Implementation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law will require amending the Constitution.
The Commission will simply be writing papers that will go straight to the dustbin, as there will be no constitutional convention to evaluate their proposals. The Bangsa Moro Basic Law, which the Commission is tasked to formulate, will also be trashed, since by the time they finish writing it—late 2015 or 2016—Aquino will be too lame a duck to order Congress to approve it. Our congressmen—especially those from Mindanao—will be insane if they voluntarily pass a law that would give Muslims in Mindanao their own state.
The MILF leaders just don’t get it. They’ve been used as characters in Aquino’s telenovela. The drama of Mr. Aquino secretly flying to Japan to meet with the MILF leaders in a hotel function room in August 2011 and the signing of the so-called Framework Agreement in October 2012 were part of a script intended for an ambitious objective.
As I reported last year, these moves were made by Aquino’s media strategists to get him to win the Nobel Peace, or at least have him nominated for the award. The precedent was his mother’s similar move, who, her officials claimed, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize after she released all political prisoners including top Communist Party leaders. Alas, Jose Ma. Sison and the rest immediately went underground. [Actually, the names of those nominated are kept secret for 50 years, which means that the person who nominated Aquino leaked the information.]
So Aquino and his deranged media strategists also thought they could pull off a similar trick, with the communists in her mother’s case now the MILF for him. The signing of the Framework Agreement was rushed for October 2012 to give them time to find somebody to nominate him to meet the Nobel Prize nomination deadline of February next year. They convinced Aquino that with the prestige of a Nobel Prize laureate, he could bamboozle the Congress and even the Supreme Court to approve the Framework Agreement, which however is a template for dismembering the Republic. They overestimated Aquino’s prestige worldwide: their contacts in institutions whose members can nominate Nobel Prize candidates refused to nominate him.
Leonen, a former University of the Philippines law dean, was Aquino’s chief negotiator who probably swore on the constitution that the Framework Agreement doesn’t violate the constitution.
That was a small prize for Leonen to pay for the reward Aquino gave him doing that. About a month later on November 2 after the Agreement was signed on October 15, Leonen – who has seen the insides of a courtroom probably less than a dozen times — was appointed November by Aquino to the highest post for a lawyer: a seat in the Supreme Court, making him at 51 years old the youngest associate justice 1938.
Considering that Leonen is a lawyer, I’ve been wondering: Did he require Aquino to give him his post-dated appointment of him to the Supreme Court before he signed the Framework Agreement 15 October?
Leonen might be one very clever lawyer and a happy Supreme Court justice, but I hope he can sleep at night with the curse he helped impose on the nation. When it becomes certain that the Agreement cannot be implemented as it violates the constitution, the MILF will claim that it is on a high moral ground and that it was betrayed by government. They will blame the coming bloodshed on Aquino’s – and Leonen’s – hands. And they will be spilling blood long after Aquino ends his term, making peace talks more difficult with a “betrayed” MILF.
The next cycle of violence in Mindanao will tragically be traced to an ambitious academic lawyer’s desire of fast being a Supreme Court justice and a President’s pipedream of winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Manila Times