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G.R. No. 183591 - G.R. NOS. 183591, 183572, 183893, 183951 and 183962 - AZCUNA - SEPARATE OPINION

G.R. No. 183591 - G.R. NOS. 183591, 183572, 183893, 183951 and 183962 - AZCUNA - SEPARATE OPINION

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. NO. 183591 : October 14, 2008]

THE PROVINCE OF NORTH COTABATO, duly represented by GOVERNOR JESUS SACDALAN and/or VICE-GOVERNOR EMMANUEL PIÑOL, for and in his own behalf, Petitioners, v. THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES PEACE PANEL ON ANCESTRAL DOMAIN (GRP), represented by SEC. RODOLFO GARCIA, ATTY. LEAH ARMAMENTO, ATTY. SEDFREY CANDELARIA, MARK RYAN SULLIVAN and/or GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, JR., the latter in his capacity as the present and duly-appointed Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) or the so-called Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Respondent.

[G.R. NO. 183752 : October 14, 2008]

CITY GOVERNMENT OF ZAMBOANGA, as represented by HON. CELSO L. LOBREGAT, City Mayor of Zamboanga, and in his personal capacity as resident of the City of Zamboanga, Rep. MA. ISABELLE G. CLIMACO, District 1, and Rep. ERICO BASILIO A. FABIAN, District 2, City of Zamboanga, Petitioners, v. THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES PEACE NEGOTIATING PANEL (GRP), as represented by RODOLFO C. GARCIA, LEAH ARMAMENTO, SEDFREY CANDELARIA, MARK RYAN SULLIVAN and HERMOGENES ESPERON, in his capacity as the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process, Respondent.

[G.R. NO. 183893 : October 14, 2008]

THE CITY OF ILIGAN, duly represented by CITY MAYOR LAWRENCE LLUCH CRUZ, Petitioner, v. THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES PEACE PANEL ON ANCESTRAL DOMAIN (GRP), represented by SEC. RODOLFO GARCIA, ATTY. LEAH ARMAMENTO, ATTY. SEDFREY CANDELARIA, MARK RYAN SULLIVAN; GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, JR., in his capacity as the present and duly appointed Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process; and/or SEC. EDUARDO ERMITA, in his capacity as Executive Secretary. Respondent.

[G.R. NO. 183951 : October 14, 2008]

THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, as represented by HON. ROLANDO E. YEBES, in his capacity as Provincial Governor, HON. FRANCIS H. OLVIS, in his capacity as Vice-Governor and Presiding Officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, HON. CECILIA JALOSJOS CARREON, Congresswoman, 1st Congressional District, HON. CESAR G. JALOSJOS, Congressman, 3rd Congressional District, and Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Zamboanga del Norte, namely, HON. SETH FREDERICK P. JALOSJOS, HON. FERNANDO R. CABIGON, JR., HON. ULDARICO M. MEJORADA II, HON. EDIONAR M. ZAMORAS, HON. EDGAR J. BAGUIO, HON. CEDRIC L. ADRIATICO, HON. FELIXBERTO C. BOLANDO, HON. JOSEPH BRENDO C. AJERO, HON. NORBIDEIRI B. EDDING, HON. ANECITO S. DARUNDAY, HON. ANGELICA J. CARREON and HON. LUZVIMINDA E. TORRINO, Petitioners, v. THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES PEACE NEGOTIATING PANEL [GRP], as represented by HON. RODOLFO C. GARCIA and HON. HERMOGENES ESPERON, in his capacity as the Presidential Adviser of Peace Process, Respondent.

[G.R. NO. 183962 : October 14, 2008]

ERNESTO M. MACEDA, JEJOMAR C. BINAY, and AQUILINO L. PIMENTEL III, Petitioners, v. THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES PEACE NEGOTIATING PANEL, represented by its Chairman RODOLFO C. GARCIA, and the MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT PEACE NEGOTIATING PANEL, represented by its Chairman MOHAGHER IQBAL, Respondents.

FRANKLIN M. DRILON and ADEL ABBAS TAMANO, Petitioners-in-Intervention.

SEN. MANUEL A. ROXAS, Petitioners-in-Intervention.

MUNICIPALITY OF LINAMON duly represented by its Municipal Mayor NOEL N. DEANO, Petitioners-in-Intervention,

THE CITY OF ISABELA, BASILAN PROVINCE, represented by MAYOR CHERRYLYN P. SANTOS-AKBAR, Petitioners-in-Intervention.

THE PROVINCE OF SULTAN KUDARAT, rep. by HON. SUHARTO T. MANGUDADATU, in his capacity as Provincial Governor and a resident of the Province of Sultan Kudarat, Petitioner-in-Intervention.

RUY ELIAS LOPEZ, for and in his own behalf and on behalf of Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao Not Belonging to the MILF, Petitioner-in-Intervention.

CARLO B. GOMEZ, GERARDO S. DILIG, NESARIO G. AWAT, JOSELITO C. ALISUAG and RICHALEX G. JAGMIS, as citizens and residents of Palawan, Petitioners-in-Intervention.

MARINO RIDAO and KISIN BUXANI, Petitioners-in-Intervention.

MUSLIM LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOUNDATION, INC (MUSLAF), Respondent-in-Intervention.

MUSLIM MULTI-SECTORAL MOVEMENT FOR PEACE & DEVELOPMENT (MMMPD), Respondent-in-Intervention.

SEPARATE OPINION

AZCUNA, J.:

I agree with the ponencia but I hold the view that, had the MOA-AD been signed as planned, it would have provided a basis for a claim in an international court that the Philippines was bound by its terms at the very least as a unilateral declaration made before representatives of the international community with vital interests in the region.

Whether the case of Australia v. France1 or that of Burkina Faso v. Mali,2 is the one applicable, is not solely for this Court to decide but also for the international court where the Philippines could be sued. While we may agree that the Philippines should not be considered bound, the international court may rule otherwise. There is need to consult the people before risking that kind of outcome.

On this point, Martin Dixon and Robert McCorquodale, in their CASES AND MATERIALS ON INTERNATIONAL LAW, observe:

B. Unilateral statements

Nuclear Test Cases (Australia v. France and New Zealand v. France)

Merits

ICJ Rep. 1974 253, International Court of Justice

Australia and New Zealand brought proceedings against France arising from nuclear tests conducted by France in the South Pacific. Before the Court had an opportunity to hear in full the merits of the case, statements were made by French authorities indicating that France would no longer conduct atmospheric nuclear tests. The court held by nine votes to six that, due to these statements by France, the claim of Australia and New Zealand no longer had any object and so the Court did not have to decide the issues in the case.

It is well recognized that declarations made by way of unilateral acts, concerning legal or factual situations, may have the effect of creating legal obligations. Declarations of this kind may be, and often are, very specific. When it is the intention of the State making the declaration that it should become bound according to its terms, that intention confers on the declaration the character of a legal undertaking, the State being thenceforth legally required to follow a course of conduct consistent with the declaration. An undertaking of this kind, if given publicly, and with an intent to be bound, even though not made within the context of international negotiations, is binding. In these circumstances, nothing in the nature of a quid pro quo nor any subsequent acceptance of the declaration, not even any reply or reaction from other States, is required for the declaration to take effect, since such a requirement would be inconsistent with the strictly unilateral nature of the juridical act by which the pronouncement by the State was made....

x x x

NOTES:

1. It is very rare that a Court will find that a unilateral statement will bind a State. In Frontier Dispute Case (Burkina Faso v. Mali) 1986 ICJ Rep 554, a Chamber of the International Court of Justice held that a statement by the President of Mali at a press conference did not create legal obligations on Mali, especially as 'The Chamber considers that it has a duty to show even greater caution when it is a question of a unilateral declaration not directed to any particular recipient.' (para. 39).3

Finally, precedents are not strictly followed in international law, so that an international court may end up formulating a new rule out of the factual situation of our MOA-AD, making a unilateral declaration binding under a new type of situation, where, for instance, the other party is not able to sign a treaty as it is not yet a State, but the declaration is made to a "particular recipient" and "witnessed" by a host of sovereign States.

As to the rest, I concur.

Endnotes:


1 1974 I. C.J. 253.

2 1986 I. C.J. 554.

3 Pp. 59-61, emphasis supplied.

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