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G.R. No. 183591 - G.R. NOS. 183591, 183572, 183893, 183951 and 183962 - LEONARDO-DE CASTRO - SEPARATE CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION : THE PROVINCE OF COTOBATO v. THE GOV'T OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, ET AL.

G.R. No. 183591 - G.R. NOS. 183591, 183572, 183893, 183951 and 183962 - LEONARDO-DE CASTRO - SEPARATE CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION : THE PROVINCE OF COTOBATO v. THE GOV'T OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, ET AL.

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 CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

I vote to consider the cases moot and academic considering the manifestation in the Memorandum, dated September 24, 2008, filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) that:

"x x x The Executive Department has repeatedly and categorically stated that the MOA-AD will not be signed in its present form or in any other form. The Chief Executive has in fact gone to the extent of dissolving the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Panel and has decided to take on a different tack and launch talks, no longer with rebels or rebel groups, but with more peace-loving community-based groups. x x x"1

This development renders unnecessary a detailed analysis of each of the stipulations contained in the said MOA-AD, which have grave constitutional implications on the sovereignty, territorial integrity and constitutional processes of the Republic of the Philippines, all of which are non-negotiable when viewed in the context of the nature of the internal conflict it seeks to address and the state of our nation today.

I believe this is a prudent move on the part of the Executive Department. By the very essence of our republican and democratic form of government, the outcome of our constitutional processes, particularly the legislative process and the constituent process of amending the constitution, cannot be predetermined or predicted with certainty as it is made to appear by the consensus points of the MOA-AD. Consequently, it is beyond the authority of any negotiating panel to commit the implementation of any consensus point or a legal framework which is inconsistent with the present Constitution or existing statutes.

Moreover, our constitutional processes are well-defined by various provisions of the Constitution. The establishment of a political and territorial "space" under a so-called Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) is nowhere to be found in the 1987 Constitution, which provides for the country's territorial and political subdivisions as follows:

"The territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines are the provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays. There shall be autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras as hereinafter provided."2

In the case of the autonomous regions, their creation is the shared responsibility of the political branches of the government and the constituent units affected. The Constitution is explicit in this regard, to wit:

"The Congress shall enact an organic act for each autonomous region with the assistance and participation of the regional consultative commission composed of representatives appointed by the President from a list of nominees from multisectoral bodies. The organic act shall define the basic structure of government for the region consisting of the executive department and legislative assembly, both of which shall be elective and representative of the constituent political units. The organic acts shall likewise provide for special courts with personal, family, and property law jurisdiction consistent with the provisions of this constitution and national law.

The creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose, provided that only provinces, cities, and geographic areas voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the autonomous region."3 (Emphasis supplied)cralawlibrary

If the establishment of autonomy requires the joint participation of Congress, the President, and of the people in the area affected, from the inception of the process of creation of an autonomous region, with more reason, the creation of the BJE - an entity intended to have its own basic law to be adopted in accordance with an "associative arrangement" - which would imply, in legal terms, semi-independence if not outright independence - cannot be negotiated without the participation of Congress and consultations with the people, residing not only in the area to be placed under the BJE but also in the rest of our country. Even with the participation of Congress and the consultation with stakeholders, the process at the onset must conform and explicitly be subject to our Constitution. This is specially important as the unsigned MOA-AD stipulates a definite framework that threatens to erase, through the "policies, rules and regulations" and basic law of the BJE, the objective existence of over four hundred (400) years of development and progress of our people by unsettling private voluntary agreements and undoing the official acts of our government institutions performed pursuant to the Constitution and the laws in force during the said long period in our history, within the identified areas, to be carved out of a substantial portion of the national territory, and with only the "details", the "mechanisms and modalities for actual implementation" to be negotiated and embodied in a Comprehensive Compact. To my mind, this alarming possibility contemplated in the MOA-AD may be the cause of chaos and even greater strife for our brothers in the south, rather than bring about the intended peace.

Endnotes:


1 OSG Memorandum (September 24, 2008), pp. 7-8.

2 Article X, Section 2, 1987 Constitution.

3 Article X, Section 18, 1987 Constitution.

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