Lobregat carried the ball for the opposition – State Prosecutor PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 22 August 2015 15:09

Today, August 22, seven years ago, saw Zamboanga City’s Chief Executive, then Mayor Celso Lobregat arguing before the justices of the Supreme Court as to why the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) should be declared as unconstitutional and contrary to law.

This followed the filing of a petition on Aug. 4 by the City of Zamboanga represented by then Mayor Celso Lobregat and then Congresspersons ErbieFabian and BengClimaco asking the High Court to restrain the government from signing the MOA-AD.

The first day of the presentation of oral arguments was on Aug. 15 when the Supreme Court grilled Atty. Ma. Lourdes Sereno, counsel for intervenor Franklin Drilon.

On Aug. 22 was the presentation of the 2nd oral arguments by the petitioners that included North Cotabato represented by Gov. Jesus Sacdalan,  Vice Governor Emmanuel Piñol ,Iligan City represented by Mayor Lawrence Cruz,and Zamboanga City.

Atty. Isrealito Torreon pleaded for North Cotabato while private law practitioner Atty. Jose Saavedra pleaded for Zamboanga City in behalf of the city’s legal team composed of OIC-City Legal Office, Atty. Norberto Patriarca, and Atty. Edward Fronda of the CLO.

However, by a twist of fate, Lobregat, a non-lawyer, was given the rare and providential opportunity to speak at the High Court.

Lobregat supplemented the arguments of the city’s legal team questioning the validity and constitutionality of the MOA-AD under which eight (8), then six (6) barangays in the city were included in the proposed Bangsamoro Juridical Entity.

Lobregat made a thorough and tough stand insisting that the Supreme Court should rule on the MOA-AD.  He was responding to a question raised by one of the justices,“what if there is an assurance from the President of Philippines that the MOA-AD would be cancelled and it would not be signed anymore, are you willing to withdraw your petition”.

Lobregat was very passionate and he demonstrated strong conviction when he argued against the MOA-AD and for the Supreme Court to rule on the matter. In the words of then State Prosecutor Agnes Devanadera, “Mayor Lobregat showed not only to the Filipinos, but to the whole world that when a local chief executive believes in something, he fights for it and he fought so hard against the MOA-AD because it was his belief that Zamboanga is for the Zamboangueños and the Philippines is for the Filipinos”.

Devanadera said that she would give credit where credit is due,saying, “Lobregat  carried the ball for the opposition”.

It was on October 14, just more than a month later, that the Supreme Court ruled that the MOA-AD was unconstitutional. And on Nov 11, the High Court affirmed its Oct. 14 decision.