Monthly Archives: December 2006

1987 constitution, constrain to peace deal?think again?

The GRP panel claims that any agreement between the MILF and the Government must be within the framework of the constitution, this caused the delay and almost a breakdown of the on-going peace talks. The MILF on the other hand, claims that this is a violation of a “Gentleman Agreement” between the two Negotiating panels, it has been set as a precondition before the resumption of the talks not to use this criteria, the position taken by the MILF can be attributed to the failure of the 1996 Final Peace Agreeement between the GRP-MNLF.

As a Law Student, we were taught that Constitution is “an experiment” this is according to Justice Holmes, for me the 1987 constitution Had already served it’s purpose which is the removal of a Dictatorial treat in this country(martial law), that is why some of our political analysts blames the Constitution for the poor political and economic development of the philippines for the reason that it is not attuned to the need of the time. And now, the debate on the proposed revision of the constitution tops the agenda of both the Administration and Opposition they both agree that it is imperative to change the constitution for the interest and betterment of this country, they only disagree on the mechanism and timing this is indeed an acknowledgement of the defect. in view of this, i would like to ask this question, why use the constitution as barrier in achieving a lasting and all-encompassing solution to the century old mindanao conflict?

Second point, in An article written by Atty. Adel Tamano ” he argues that one of the underemphasized objectives of a written constitution , which is by nature a document approved by the majority, is the protection of the rights of political minorities” he further argues that “In the language of Constitutional law, a constitution acts as an “auto-limitation” of what states can validly do”. since the constitution is silent on secession there is no point in using the constituton as a criteria for a peaceful solution on mindanao.

Fr. Dr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J. in reaction to the Bangsamoro claim for right to self-determination and as one of the framers of the constitution wrote:

” In all of these, moreover, self-determination has never been limited to independence. The heart of the right is the freedom to choose. Thus, for instance while puerto rico has chosen to remain with the United States, East Timor, opted for independence.

“…Although there is no legal Authority for secession, there is no obligation on the part of the minorities to stay with states, which oppress them if they succeed in seceding and in establishing themselves as new state, international recognition will follow.”

Another justification is the International obligation of the Philippines as founding member of the United Nations and enshrined in the constitution particularly;

ARTICLE II sec. 2 “The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations”.

In view of this, the involvement of other countries in the negotiations like Malaysia, Brunei, Libya and now Japan and pledges from other European and Muslim countries to support the peace process not to mention the insistence of the United States Of America to formally participate in the negotiation elevates the status of the negotiation to an International Agreement or TREATY that must be complied in good faith.

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