Celso briefs envoys on Bangsamoro pact PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 19 June 2014 13:47

The international community recently sought out District 1 Representative Celso Lobregat to brief the ambassadors and other foreign dignitaries in a roundtable discussion on issues relative to the framework agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).

Lobregat, whose vast knowledge on the peace agreement helped enlighten the Supreme Court to declare the MOA-AD on the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity as unconstitutional and contrary to law in 2008, shared his views from the ground.

The forum, hosted by the Center for Research and Communication of the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) in collaboration with the Philippine Ambassadors Foundation Inc. (PAFI) and the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations (PCFR), also included various other presenters who talked on the agreement’s implications on various aspects.

Lobregat began his presentation by stressing that “We are for peace, just, long and lasting peace – we are not anti-peace and we want the Framework Agreement to be comprehensive, acceptable, feasible and consistent with the Constitution and existing laws.”

The congressman raised his concerns on the constitution and constitutional issues surrounding the FAB and the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB).

Further, Lobregat emphasized that the FAB has provisions that tie the hands of Congress.  “Congress has the power to enact laws, specifically the BBL. However, the FAB and its Annexes repeatedly provide that the Basic Law should be consistent with all agreements entered into and that may be entered into or in accordance with the provisions of the FAB. Furthermore, it is repeatedly stated that all agreements entered into have to be implemented.”

“What if certain provisions in the FAB or Annex will be amended, revised, deleted or provisions added, will the MILF agree or will it be a ‘take it or leave it’ position wherein the MILF will insist in the implementation of all agreements,” he added.

He zeroed in on the contiguous 10 percent opt-in provisions which according to Lobregat will cause chaos, uncertainty and instability instead of promoting peace. This provision will create a scenario of constant conflict between the Bangsamoro and the LGU outside the Bangsamoro, and will make for a creeping and never ending Bangsamoro expansion .

Among other concerns raised by Lobregat were the Bangsamoro waters, areas of joint cooperation and the annex on normalization.

He also spoke on exclusive jurisdiction to be given to the Bangsamoro in relation to the Mindanao power situation. “With the grant of exclusive powers of the inland waters (Lake Lanao) and the need to cooperate and coordinate between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government in matters of power generation, transmission and distribution when this is connected to the national transmission grid, will complicate and worsen the power situation in Mindanao.”

Among the other presenters and their topics during the forum that was held at the Telangtan Hall, UA&P in Ortigas Center, Pasig City were  Ambassador Lauro L. Baja Jr., Former Permanent Representative to the UN and Former Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs (Implications on Political Dimension); Ambassador Willy C. Gaa, Former Philippine Ambassador to the USA, China, Australia and Libya (Implications on Legal Dimension) and Ambassador Jose V. Romero Jr., Former Ambassador to Italy and FAO (Implications on Socio-Economic Dimension).

The reactors included Atty. Salma Pir Rasul, Executive Director, Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy and Atty. Jeremy I. Gatdula, OpCom Secretary, School of Law and Governance, UA&P.

Atty. Joaquin E. San Diego, Dean of the School of Law and Governance, UA&P gave the welcome remarks and Ambassador Benjamin B. Domingo, Former Ambassador to Brunei and Former Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs delivered the opening remarks.

After the presentations, an open forum was held moderated by Ambassador Clemencio F. Montesa, Former Ambassador to the EU, Belgium, Luxemburg and Mexico. The RTD concluded with a synthesis from Ambassador Rosalinda V. Tirona, Former Ambassador to India, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Kenya.

In view of the issues presented by Lobregat during the discussion, Ambassador Tirona in her conclusion stated: “There’s a general sympathy for the peace process to succeed but the issues raised in this forum should be seriously considered.”

Among the 70 attendees from foreign dignitaries, public sector, media and the academe was HRH Prince Omar Kiram Dux de Legazpi Duque de Vivar-Miniquiz, Grand Prince and Prince Marshal, Foreign Minister of Royal Hashemite Sultanate  of Sulu and Sabah, who also raised his concern on the non-inclusion of the Sabah claim in the comprehensive agreement.  Also present was HE Count Hep E.S Martinez, Royal Aide-de-Camp to his HRH Prince Omar Kiram. — Jubels C. Santos