Celso consults stakeholders on Bangsamoro agreement PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 24 February 2014 17:22

As the House of Representatives awaits the submission of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, District 1 Representative Celso Lobregat consults multi-stakeholders in the city to help people be clarified and informed of the different provisions in the framework agreement.

The consultations held yesterday, February 23 covered the framework agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed by the government peace panel and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the addendum especially on the Bangsamoro waters and the Areas of Joint Cooperation which are located in the Moro Gulf and Sulu Sea.

Aside from meeting the multi-sectoral groups, Lobregat separately met with officers and members of the Southern Philippines Deep Sea Fishing Corporation (SOPHIL) who expressed concern over the provisions in the agreement and the addendum.

Lobregat painstakingly discussed the various contentious provisions and also handed out documents to the participants. “People have to have copies of the documents to understand the provisions, read and re-read it, decipher it and tie it up from the framework to all the annexes.”

“For us to be able to go forward, there has to be an intelligent discussion of the issue so that people will be intelligently informed of the provisions and its impact,” the congressman pronounced.

He emphasized that the FAB and the annexes including the addendum have various “gray” areas that need to be clarified and revisited. He hoped that the two negotiating panels will make the necessary corrections before the basic law is submitted to Congress for deliberations.

For one, he said there is no provision in FAB and all its annexes affirming or recognizing the Philippine Constitution and that the only reference to the constitution point to making proposals to amend the constitution. “Why is there no clause or provision acknowledging or affirming the Constitution? Are there provisions in the FAB Annexes and Addendum that cannot be implemented without amending the Constitution? If none, why is it necessary to incorporate provisions tasking the Transition Commission to work on proposals to accommodate and entrench in the constitution the agreement of the parties?”

Lobregat said the FAB also ties the hands of Congress stressing that while Congress has the power to enact laws, specifically the Bangsamoro Law, 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. Furtheremore, he it is repeatedly stated that all agreements entered into have to be implemented.

“Doesn’t this tie the hands of Congress? What else is there for Congress to do? What if certain provisions in the FAB or annex will be amended, revised, deleted or provisions added, will the MILF insist that agreement entered into have to be implemented?”, the solon asked stressing that even the decommissioning of MILF forces shall be parallel and commensurate to the implementation of all agreements of the parties.

Lobregat also cited gray areas in the basic law ratification; the area and plebiscite issue particularly on the provision of 10% of the qualified voters in the area asking for inclusion in the Bangsamoro territory; national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines where the FAB defines territory as “the landmass as well as the maritime, terrestrial, fluvial and alluvial domains and the aerial domain and the atmosphere above it..”; the FAB and the annex on normalization and various others.

With regards to normalization, the congressman asked: “Will the police force for the Bangsamoro be distinct and separate from the Philippine National Police? What will be the structure of the police force for the Bangsamoro? Who will they report to and take orders from?”

As he cites these various contentious issues, Lobregat emphasized he is for the attainment of an honorable, just and lasting peace in Mindanao and that “we are all in search for that ever elusive peace in Mindanao and we are all for the end of any and all armed hostilities”.

“Definitely, I am supportive of the peace process. I want the peace negotiations to succeed. And I do not want the current peace negotiations to end up like the failed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) that is why I am citing certain provisions, raising certain issues and concerns regarding the FAB and its annexes. There are ambiguities and questions that need to be answered,” the District I congressman stated.

He said it is precisely that because he wants the peace negotiations to succeed that he is hoping that the OPAPP and the GPH panel will keep an open mind, listen and address these concerns by clarifying, reviewing, and if necessary amending, modifying certain provisions, while there is still time.

“I would like to thank President Benigno Simeon Aquino III for his sincere effort in trying to finalize the Peace agreement and implement it within his term. The president is going the extra mile and this is indeed in pursuit of just and lasting peace in Mindanao,” he said.

He added: “We reiterate, 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”. — Rey Carbonel