Bangsamoro Organic Law challenged in Supreme Court

Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi want to stay in Region 9’

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - First Page - (Mindanao Examiner. With a report from The Manila Times.)

MUSLIMS IN BASILAN, Sulu and Tawi-tawi, including Lanao del Sur are opposed to future rule by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region. A referendum has been - which comprises Bangsamoro Organic Law set for next year for residents Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, that will govern the new of the Autonomous Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao region. Region in Muslim Mindanao - to ratify the

Residents of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi who are from Tausug, Yakan and Sama tribes wanted to be part of Region 9 in Western Mindanao, and not be included in the Bangsamoro autonomous region. MILF leaders -who are mostly from Maguindanao tribe - are mulling to govern the proposed region with rebel chieftain Murad Ebrahim as regional governor, and senior rebel leaders to hold key position in the Bangsamoro autonomous government. Even in Wao town in Lanao del Sur, residents had strongly opposed the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Supreme Court Just recently, The Manila Times reported that Sulu province, through Gov. Toto Tan, filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with the Supreme Court to review the legality and constitutionality of the Bangsamoro Organic Law which was signed (RA 11054) in July by President Rodrigo Duterte. The proposed law is the result of peace negotiations between the Filipino government and MILF rebels. It said lawyer Sixto Brillantes is representing Tan. The report said the respondents in the 48page petition were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Interior and Local Government Officer-in-charge Eduardo Año, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, and the MILF.

Tan claimed that Congress committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it passed the Bangsamoro Organic Law. He said the Bangsamoro Organic Law violates Section 18 and 19 of Article X of the 1987 Constitution which authorized the enactment of only one Organic Act to establish the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“Since ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) is created by Constitutional fiat, Congress, by itself, has absolutely no authority to abolish ARMM. Only through an amendment of the Constitution may ARMM be abolished. This is so, because only the Constitution may create or abolish an autonomous region,” Tan said.

“Accordingly, when Congress, by enacting RA 11054, effectively abolished ARMM, and established BAR (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region) in its stead, Congress committed an unconstitutional act, an unwarranted infringement of Article X of the Constitution,” he added.

The Manila Times reported that petitioner stressed that establishing a parliamentary form of government in the Bangsamoro autonomous region violates the doctrine of separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.

“The same provision of Bangsamoro Organic Law, also violate Section 18, Article X of the Constitution requiring that the Organic Act of an Autonomous Region shall, among others, define the basic structure of government for the region consisting of the executive department and legislative assembly, both of which shall be elective and representative of the constituent political units,” Tan pointed out.

Tan said the automatic inclusion of the ARMM in the newly created Bangsamoro Region “and the provision that the provinces and cities of the ARMM shall vote as one geographical area are likewise unconstitutional.”

“The provisions under Section 2(a) , Article III on Territorial Jurisdiction and Article XV of RA 11054 on the conduct of the plebiscite do not afford the constituents of the Province of Sulu, to the prejudice of their right to suffrage and their right to local autonomy, the option to vote to join or not to join the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” the governor added.

Tan asked the high court to stop the Executive Department from implementing the Bangsamoro law. He also urged the tribunal to issue a Writ of Prohibition to bar the Commission on Elections from proceeding with the scheduled plebiscite in January. Under the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the Bangsamoro region will be composed of the ARMM, six municipalities of Lanao del Norte and 39 villages of Cotabato, and the chartered cities of Isabela and Cotabato subject to the approval of voters.

The region will be headed by a chief minister and two deputy ministers. The parliament will be composed of political party representatives, parliamentary district representatives, sectoral representatives and indigenous tribes and settler communities.

All parliament members will have a term of three years and can enjoy a maximum of three consecutive terms. The parliament can enact its own laws. The Bangsamoro Organic Law also allows 75-25 wealth sharing between the Bangsamoro autonomous region and national government.

The Supreme Court has already directed the government to comment on the petition filed.

MILF Says “We recognize that it is within the rights of Governor Tan to file this petition. However, it is also within our preview to challenge his motivation, hoping that altruistic reasons drove him rather than prolonging a political career. The BOL is more than a piece of legislation. It is a product of the 17 years of difficult peace negotiations and four years of arduous drafting and consultation process with a variety of stakeholders in the Bangsamoro as well as eminent constitutionalists and legal experts.”

“The BOL hopes to fulfill the Bangsamoro’s right to self-determination, address the historical grievances of the Bangsamoro people and introduce necessary reforms to promote good governance and improve the delivery of services in a region gravely affected by decades-long conflict. The BOL, compared to RA 9054 and RA 6734, has provisions that will grant the Bangsamoro people, including the Sulu province, the opportunity to chart their political, economic and social future. Surely, the Sulu governor can see value in that?”

“We can only hope that the honorable men and women of the High Court would see that the BOL will help reinforce and strengthen the political and legal foundation of just and lasting peace in the region. Moreover, it was deliberated upon and approved by the Congress’ best legal minds who are also confident that the BOL can stand the test of constitutionality in the Supreme Court. In the meantime, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will remain committed to the peace process and work with various stakeholders in Mindanao.”

Residents of Lanao del Sur’s Wao town protest the government’s Bangsamoro deal with the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front. (Mindanao Examiner – Mark Navales)

Residents of Lanao del Sur’s Wao town protest the government’s Bangsamoro deal with the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front. (Mindanao Examiner – Mark Navales)

Residents of Lanao del Sur’s Wao town protest the government’s Bangsamoro deal with the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front. (Mindanao Examiner – Mark Navales)

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