Celso speaks on BBL in FINEX-MAP forum: Will BBL bring lasting peace in Mindanao? PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 06 May 2015 13:15

By Jubels Santos

Zamboanga City District 1 Representative Celso L. Lobregat spoke on the proposed BBL before financial and management executives in a forum: “The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL): Will it bring lasting peace in Mindanao?.”

The forum was organized by the Financial Executive Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) and the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), together with the Harvard Kennedy School Alumni Association of the Philippines. It was held last 29 April 2015 at the Hotel Inter-Continental Manila in Makati City.

Lobregat was one of the panelists in the said forum. The other members of the panel include Prof. Miriam Coronel Ferrer (Chair, GPH Peace Panel), Dean Merlin M. Magallona (Professor and Former University Dean of the UP College of Law), Dr. Alan T. Ortiz (President, SMC Global Power Holdings Corp.), and Justice Adolfo S. Azcuna (Chancellor, Philippine Judicial Academy, and Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court).

Lobregat started his speech with a statement stressing that “we are for peace, just, long and lasting peace – we are not anti-peace and we want the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to be fair, just, acceptable, feasible and consistent with the Constitution and existing laws.” He also mentioned that the Mamasapano incident affected the course of the proposed BBL.

He cited that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by the GPH and MILF last 27 March 2014 is a 5-page document that list down 12 prior agreements and various other agreements, guidelines, terms of reference and joint statements which constitute an integral part of the Comprehensive Agreement. And in the last paragraphs state: “The Parties commit to faithfully abide by, honor, respect, implement and entrench these agreements, and nurture the integrity of the whole peace process. An Exit Agreement shall be crafted and signed by both Parties when all Agreements have been fully implemented.”

Unlike in the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Totality Clause states: “This Peace Agreement, which is the full implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, embodies and constitutes the totality of all the agreements, covenant and understandings between the GRP and the MNLF respecting all the subject matters embodied herein. This Agreement supersedes and modifies all agreements, consensus, covenants, documents and communications not referred to or embodied in this Agreement or whose terms and conditions are otherwise inconsistent herewith. Any conflict in the interpretation of this Agreement shall be resolved in the light of the Philippine Constitution and existing laws.”

This is the main difference between the CAB and the FPA. In the CAB, Parties commit to implement all Agreements signed. While in the FPA, this Agreement supersedes and modifies all agreements and any conflict in the interpretation of this Agreement shall be resolved in the light of the Philippine Constitution and existing laws.

Lobregat further asked “What if Congress amends the draft BBL, will the MILF agree or will it be a ‘take it or leave it’ position wherein MILF will insist in the implementation of all agreements?”  Lobregat cited the letter signed by MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim addressed to Ad Hoc Committee Chairman Rufus B. Rodriguez dated 29 December 2014.

As per said letter, it was stated: “the MILF negotiated its peace agreement with the understanding that it was negotiating with the totality of the Philippine government or “whole of government” especially since, among other reasons, the Commander-in-Chief powers of the President allows him to bind the whole of government including its different branches.” Further on, said letter stated: “due to the foregoing circumstances, we trust that Congress will pass the mutually agreed BBL draft with no changes and without diminishing, diluting or watering-down its provisions, except probably for minor changes or changes that clearly improve it or enhance it.”

“As Members of Congress, we have the prime duty to uphold and defend the Constitution in any legislation. Eventually we need to pass a law that can stand legal scrutiny and not end up like the MOA-AD that was declared Contrary to Law and The Constitution by the Supreme Court,” Lobregat added.

Lobregat also mentioned that in the proposed BBL, the Constitution is only mentioned twice. One in the Preamble, stating “in consonance with the Constitution.” However, by saying that the BBL is in consonance with the Constitution, this doesn’t make the alleged “unconstitutional provisions” constitutional. In RA 9054, Constitution was mentioned 49 times – in various provisions saying “within the framework of the Constitution”, “consistent with the Constitution”, “subject to the provisions of the Constitution” “as defined by the Constitution” – making it clear that the provisions in the RA 9054 are consistent with the Constitution.

The forum was attended by participants from the financial industry. Mr. Victor P. Dela Dingco (Executive Vice President, FINEX) gave the opening remarks while Atty. Euney Marie J. Mata-Perez (Chairman, FINEX Tax and Legal Committee) gave the closing remarks. Ms. Marites Dañguilan-Vitug (Editor-at-Large, Rappler) was the moderator during the Round Table Discussion. — Jubels Santos