Province of North Cotabato v. Government of the Republic of the Philippines
(G.R. Nos. 183591, 183752, 183893, 183951, &183962) (14 October 2008)
On 8 August 2008, the Government of the Republic of thePhilippines (GRP), represented by the GRP Peace Panel and thePresidential Adviser on the Peace Process (PAPP), and the MoroIslamic Liberation Front (MILF) were scheduled to sign theMemorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD)Aspect of the previous GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.The MOA-AD included, among others, a stipulation thatcreates the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE), to which the GRPgrants the authority and jurisdiction over the ancestral domain andancestral lands of the Bangsamoro—defined as the presentgeographic area of the ARMM constituted by Lanao del Sur,Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and Marawi City, as wellas the municipalities of Lanao del Norte which voted for inclusion inthe ARMM in the 2001 plebiscite. The BJE is then granted the power to build, develop, and maintain its own institutions. The MOA-ADalso described the relationship of the GRP and the BJE as“associative,” characterized by shared authority and responsibility. Itfurther provides that its provisions requiring “amendments to theexisting legal framework” shall take effect upon signing of aComprehensive Compact.Before the signing, however, the Province of North Cotabatosought to compel the respondents to disclose and furnish it withcomplete and official copies of the MOA-AD, as well as to hold a public consultation thereon, invoking its right to information onmatters of public concern. A subsequent petition sought to have theCity of Zamboanga excluded from the BJE. The Court then issued aTemporary Restraining Order (TRO) on 4 August 2008, directing the public respondents and their agents to cease and desist from formallysigning the MOA-AD.
Issues and Ruling:
1.W/N the President has the power to pursue reforms thatwould require new legislation and constitutionalamendments.
YES. However, the stipulation in the MOA-AD that virtuallyguarantees that necessary changes shall be effected upon the legalframework of the GRP must be struck down as unconstitutional as itis inconsistent with the limits of the President’s authority to proposeconstitutional amendments. Because although the President’s power to conduct peace negotiations is implicitly included in her powers asChief Executive and Commander-in-Chief, and, in the course of conducting peace negotiations, may validly consider implementingeven those policies that require changes to the Constitution, she maynot unilaterally implement them without the intervention of Congress, or act in any way as if the assent of that body wereassumed as a certainty.
W/N there is a violation of the people’s right toinformation on matters of public concern (1987 Constitution,Art. III, Sec. 7) under a state policy of full disclosure of all itstransactions involving public interest (1987 Constitution,Art. II, Sec. 28), including public consultation under RA No.7160 (Local Government Code of 1991).
YES. At least three pertinent laws animate these constitutionalimperatives and justify the exercise of the people’s right to beconsulted on relevant matters relating to the peace agenda: