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ORDILLO vs COMELEC 192 SCRA 100 The question raised in this petition is whether or not the province of Ifugao, being the only province which voted favorably for the creation of the Cordillera Autonomous Region can, alone, legally and validly constitute such Region. The antecedent facts that gave rise to this petition are as follows: On January 30, 1990, the people of the provinces of Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Abra and Kalinga-Apayao and the city of Baguio cast their votes in a plebiscite held pursuant to Republic Act No. 6766 entitled "An Act Providing for an Organic Act for the Cordillera Autonomous Region." The official Commission on Elections (COMELEC) results of the plebiscite showed that the creation of the Region was approved by a majority of 5,889 votes in only the Ifugao Province and was overwhelmingly rejected by 148,676 votes in the rest of the provinces and city above-mentioned. Consequently, the COMELEC, on February 14, 1990, issued Resolution No. 2259 stating that the Organic Act for the Region has been approved and/or ratified by majority of the votes cast only in the province of Ifugao. On the same date, the Secretary of Justice issued a memorandum for the President reiterating the COMELEC resolution and provided: ". . . [A]nd considering the proviso in Sec. 13(A) that only the provinces and city voting favorably shall be included in the CAR, the province of Ifugao being the only province which voted favorably — then, alone, legally and validly constitutes the CAR." (Rollo, p. 7) As a result of this, on March 8, 1990, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 6861 setting the elections in the Cordillera Autonomous Region of Ifugao on the first Monday of March 1991.
Even before the issuance of the COMELEC resolution, the Executive Secretary on February 5, 1990 issued a Memorandum granting authority to wind up the affairs of the Cordillera Executive Board and the Cordillera Regional Assembly created under Executive Order No. 220. On March 9, 1990, the petitioner filed a petition with COMELEC to declare the non-ratification of the Organic Act for the Region. The COMELEC merely noted said petition. On March 30, 1990, the President issued Administrative Order No. 160 declaring among others that the Cordillera Executive Board and Cordillera Regional Assembly and all the offices created under Executive Order No. 220 were abolished in view of the ratification of the Organic Act.
The petitioners maintain that there can be no valid Cordillera Autonomous Region in only one province as the Constitution and Republic Act No. 6766 require that the said Region be composed of more than one constituent unit. The petitioners, then, pray that the Court: (1) declare null and void COMELEC resolution No. 2259, the memorandum of the Secretary of Justice, the memorandum of the Executive Secretary, Administrative Order No. 160, and Republic Act No. 6861 and prohibit and restrain the respondents from implementing the same and spending public funds for the purpose and (2) declare Executive Order No. 220 constituting the Cordillera Executive Board and the Cordillera Regional Assembly and other offices to be still in force and effect until another organic law for the Autonomous Region shall have been enacted by Congress and the same is duly ratified by the voters in the constituent units. We treat the Comments of the respondents as an answer and decide the case. This petition is meritorious. The sole province of Ifugao cannot validly constitute the Cordillera Autonomous Region. It is explicit in Article X, Section 15 of the 1987 Constitution that: "Section 15. There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordillera consisting of provinces, cities, municipalities and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures, and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines." (Emphasis Supplied)
The keywords — provinces, cities, municipalities and geographical areas connote that "region" is to be made up of more than one constituent unit. The term "region" used in its ordinary sense means two or more provinces. This is supported by the fact that the thirteen (13) regions into which the Philippines is divided for administrative purposes are groupings of contiguous provinces. (Integrated Reorganization Plan (1972), which was made as part of the law of the land by P.D. No. 1; P.D. No. 742) Ifugao is a province by itself. To become part of a region, it must join other provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas. It joins other units because of their common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage, economic and social structures and other relevant characteristics. The Constitutional requirements are not present in this case.
The well-established rule in statutory construction that the language of the Constitution, as much as possible should be understood in the sense it has in common use and that the words used in constitutional provisions are to be given their ordinary meaning except where technical terms are employed, must then, be applied in this case. (See Baranda v. Gustilo, 165 SCRA 757, 770, ; J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. v. Land Tenure Administration, 31 SCRA 413, 422-423 ). Aside from the 1987 Constitution, a reading of the provisions of Republic Act No. 6766 strengthens the petitioner's position that the Region cannot be constituted from only one province. Article III, Sections 1 and 2 of the Statute provide that the Cordillera Autonomous Region is to be administered by the Cordillera government consisting of the Regional Government and local government units. It further provides that: "SECTION 2. The Regional Government shall exercise powers and functions necessary for the proper governance and development of all provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangay or ili within the Autonomous Region . . ." From these sections, it can be gleaned that Congress never intended that a single province may constitute the autonomous region. Otherwise, we would be faced with the absurd situation of having two sets of officials, a set of provincial officials and another set of regional officials exercising their executive and legislative powers over exactly the same small area. Article V, Sections 1 and 4 of Republic Act 6766 vest the legislative power in the Cordillera Assembly whose members shall be elected from regional assembly districts apportioned among provinces and the cities composing the Autonomous Region.
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If we follow the respondent's position, the members of such Cordillera Assembly shall then be elected only from the province of Ifugao creating an awkward predicament of having two legislative bodies — the Cordillera Assembly and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan — exercising their legislative powers over the province of Ifugao. And since Ifugao is one of the smallest provinces in the Philippines, population-wise, it would have too many government officials for so few people.
Article XII, Section 10 of the law creates a Regional Planning and Development Board composed of the Cordillera Governor, all the provincial governors and city mayors or their representatives, two members of the Cordillera Assembly, and members representing the private sector. The Board has a counterpart in the provincial level called the Provincial Planning and Development Coordinator. The Board's functions (Article XII, Section 10, par. 2, Republic Act No. 6766) are almost similar to those of the Provincial Coordinator's (Title Four, Chapter 3, Article 10, Section 220 (4), Batas Pambansa Blg. 337 — Local Government Code). If it takes only one person in the provincial level to perform such functions while on the other hand it takes an entire Board to perform almost the same tasks in the regional level, it could only mean that a larger area must be covered at the regional level. The respondent's theory of the Autonomous Region being made up of a single province must, therefore, fail. Article XXI, Section 13 (B) (c) alloting the huge amount of Ten Million Pesos (P10,000,000.00) to the Regional Government for its initial organizational requirements cannot be construed as funding only a lone and small province. These sections of Republic Act No. 6766 show that a one province Cordillera Autonomous Region was never contemplated by the law creating it. The province of Ifugao makes up only 11% of the total population of the areas enumerated in Article I, Section 2 (b) of Republic Act No. 6766 which include Benguet, Mountain Province, Abra, Kalinga-Apayao and Baguio City. It has the second smallest number of inhabitants from among the provinces and city above mentioned. The Cordillera population is distributed in round figures as follows: Abra, 185,000;
Benguet, 486,000; Ifugao, 149,000; Kalinga-Apayao, 214,000; Mountain Province, 116,000; and Baguio City, 183,000; Total population of these five provinces and one city; 1,332,000 according to the 1990 Census (Manila Standard, September 30, 1990, p. 14). There are other provisions of Republic Act No. 6766 which are either violated or which cannot be complied with. Section 16 of Article V calls for a Regional Commission on Appointments with the Speaker as Chairman and are (6) members coming from different provinces and cities in the Region. Under the respondents' view, the Commission would have a Chairman and only one member. It would never have a quorum. Section 3 of Article VI calls for cabinet members, as far as practicable, to come from various provinces and cities of the Region. Section 1 of Article VII creates a system of tribal courts for the various indigenous cultural communities of the Region. Section 9 of Article XV requires the development of a common regional language based upon the various languages and dialects in the region which regional language in turn is expected to enrich the national language. The entirety of Republic Act No. 6766 creating the Cordillera Autonomous Region is infused with provisions which rule against the sole province of Ifugao constituting the Region.
To contemplate the situation envisioned by the respondent would not only violate the letter and intent of the Constitution and Republic Act No. 6766 but would also be impractical and illogical. Our decision in Abbas, et al. v. COMELEC, (G.R. No. 89651, November 10, 1969), is not applicable in the case at bar contrary to the view of the Secretary of Justice. The Abbas case laid down the rate on the meaning of majority in the phrase "by majority of the votes cast by the constituent units called for the purpose" found in the Constitution, Article X, Section 18. It stated: ". . . [I]t is thus clear that what is required by the Constitution is simple majority of votes approving the Organic Act in individual constituent units and not a double majority of the votes in all constituent units put together, as well as in the individual constituent units." This was the pronouncement applied by the Secretary of Justice in arriving at his conclusion stated in his Memorandum for the President that: ". . . [i]t is believed that the creation of the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) as mandated by R.A. No. 6766 became effective upon its approval by the majority of the votes cast in the province of Ifugao. And considering the proviso in Section 13 (a) that only the provinces and city voting favorably shall be included in the CAR, the province of Ifugao being the only province which voted favorably — can, alone, legally and validly constitute the CAR." (Rollo. p. 40). The plebiscites mandated by the Constitution and Republic Act No. 6766 for the Cordillera and Republic Act No. 6734 for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao determine — (1) whether there shall be an autonomous region in the Cordillera and in Muslim Mindanao and (2) which provinces and cities, among those enumerated in the two Republic Acts, shall comprise said Autonomous Regions. (See III, Record of the Constitutional Commission, 487-492 ). The Abbas case established the rule to follow on which provinces and cities shall comprise the autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao which is, consequently, the same rule to follow with regard to the autonomous region in the Cordillera. However, there is nothing in the Abbas decision which deals with the issue on whether an autonomous region, in either Muslim Mindanao or Cordillera could exist despite the fact that only one province or one city is to constitute it.
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Stated in another way, the issue in this case is whether the sole province of Ifugao can validly and legally constitute the Cordillera Autonomous Region. The issue is not whether the province of Ifugao is to be included in the Cordillera Autonomous Region. It is the first issue which the Court answers in the instant case. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. Resolution No. 2259 of the Commission on Elections, insofar as it upholds the creation of an autonomous region, the February 14, 1990 memorandum of the Secretary of Justice, the February 5, 1990 memorandum of the Executive Secretary, Administrative Order No. 160, and Republic Act No. 6861 are declared null and void while Executive Order No. 220 is declared to be still in force and effect until properly repealed or amended.
6734 conflict with the Tripoli Agreement. 17." which the Court noted. section 15 of the charter provides that "[t]here shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces. 1976. Sec. The arguments against R. and (b) that certain provisions of R. and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage. The President shall exercise general supervision over autonomous regions to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed. unconstitutional . 6734. economic and social structures. family. 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. a new Constitution was ratified. more specifically. The organic acts shall likewise provide for special courts with personal. 1989. and property law jurisdiction consistent with the provisions of this Constitution and national laws. All powers. within eighteen months from the time of organization of both Houses. violates the Constitution. 6734. 16. which the Court considered as the answer. and (2) declare R. It provided for "[t]he establishment of Autonomy in the southern Philippines within the realm of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines" and enumerated the thirteen (13) provinces comprising the "areas of autonomy. the issues having been joined. petitioner Mama-o filed a "Manifestation with Motion for Leave to File Reply on Respondents' Comment and to Open Oral Arguments." To effectuate this mandate. cities. 19 The first Congress elected under this Constitution shall. 18." These consolidated petitions pray that the Court: (1) enjoin the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) from conducting the plebiscite and the Secretary of Budget and Management from releasing funds to the COMELEC for that purpose.ABBAS vs COMELEC The present controversy relates to the plebiscite in thirteen (13) provinces and nine (9) cities in Mindanao and Palawan. or parts thereof. and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines." 2 In 1987. Subsequently. or parts thereof.A. Sec. provided that only the provinces. Sec. and responsibilities not granted by this Constitution or by law to the autonomous regions shall be vested in the National Government.A. The Tripoli Agreement. The organic act shall define the basic structure of government for the region consisting of the executive and representative of the constituent political units. 6734. pass the organic acts for the autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras. 6734 raised by petitioners may generally be categorized into either of the following: (a) that R. 1 scheduled for November 19. No.A. the Agreement Between the government of the Republic of the Philippines of the Philippines and Moro National Liberation Front with the Participation of the Quadripartie Ministerial Commission Members of the Islamic Conference and the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Conference" took effect on December 23. 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. in implementation of Republic Act No. the Constitution further provides: Sec. After a consolidated comment was filed by Solicitor General for the respondents. and geographic areas voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the autonomous region. Article X. which the for the first time provided for regional autonomy. . cities. the case was deemed submitted for decision.A. entitled "An Act Providing for an Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. municipalities. No. functions.
253 (1829)].Sec. maintained. i. 6734 unconditionally creates an autonomous region in Mindanao. nor a binding international agreement. that certain provisions of R. In support of his argument.A. 6734 and the provisions of the Tripoli Agreement will not have the effect of enjoining the implementation of the Organic Act. section 1(1) of R. Thus. (3) Ancestral domain and natural resources. 6734 conflict with the provisions of the Tripoli Agreement. social and tourism development. being a subsequent law. Only a determination by this Court that R. (7) Educational policies." Petitioner contends that the tenor of the above provision makes the creation of an autonomous region absolute. if at all. to be composed of provinces and cities voting favorably in the plebiscite called for the purpose. No. The preservation of peace and order within the regions shall be the responsibility of the local police agencies which shall be organized. No. No.A. 1. supervised. such that even if only two provinces vote in favor of autonomy. family. 6734 contravened the Constitution would result in the granting of the reliefs sought. No. The standard for any inquiry into the validity of R. citing Head Money Cases. 21.A. Firs. not having been entered into by the Republic of the Philippines with a sovereign state and ratified according to the provisions of the 1973 or 1987 Constitutions. 6734 was enacted and signed into law on August 1.A. 1974). No. Article X of the Constitution. The reference to the constitutional provision cannot be glossed over for it clearly indicates that the creation of the autonomous region shall take place only in accord with the constitutional requirements. 3 2. 20. rather it would be in the same class as the latter [SALONGA. Nelson. 580 (1884) and Foster v. Sec. it is now the Constitution itself that provides for the creation of an autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao. We find it neither necessary nor determinative of the case to rule on the nature of the Tripoli Agreement and its binding effect on the Philippine Government whether under public international or internal Philippine law. and (9) Such other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion of the general welfare of the people of the region. (6) Economic. 6734 which declares that "[t]here is hereby created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. the organic act of autonomous regions shall provide for legislative powers over: (1) Administrative organization. 6734 refers to Section 18. R. 112 U. R. The Court shall dispose first of the second category of arguments raised by petitioners. PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW 320 (4th ed. Petitioners premise their arguments on the assumption that the Tripoli Agreement is part of the law of the land.. The Court shall therefore only pass upon the constitutional questions which have been raised by petitioners. in accordance with Section 18. In the first place. 1989. 6734 would be amendatory of the Tripoli Agreement. contrary to the aforequoted provisions of the Constitution on the autonomous region which make the creation of such region dependent upon the outcome of the plebiscite. 6734. (5) Regional urban and rural planning development. Article X of the Constitution which sets forth the conditions necessary for the creation of the autonomous region. (8) Preservation and development of the cultural heritage. Assuming for the sake of argument that the Tripoli Agreement is a binding treaty or international agreement.A. No. an enactment of the Congress of the Philippines. The defense and security of the region shall be the responsibility of the National Government. being a binding international agreement . No. The matter of the creation of the autonomous region and its composition needs to be clarified.A.A. Pursuant to the constitutional mandate.S. Thus.A. petitioner cites Article II. any conflict between the provisions of R.A. it would then constitute part of the law of the land. No. Petitioner Abbas argues that R. The Solicitor General asserts that the Tripoli Agreement is neither a binding treaty. (4) Personal.A. 6734 would therefore be what is so provided in the Constitution. Within its territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of this Constitution and national laws. and property relations. an autonomous region would still be created composed of the two provinces where the favorable votes were obtained. 2 Pet. But as internal law it would not be superior to R. there is a specific provision in the Transitory Provisions . No. and utilized in accordance with applicable laws.e. No. the questioned provision itself in R. Second. (2) Creation of sources of revenues.
That only the provinces and cities voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. in Article XVIII. para. section 1 (2) of R. Sulu. 1 of Article II of this Act in a plebiscite which shall be held not earlier than ninety (90) days or later than one hundred twenty (120) days after the approval of this Act: Provided. they could have simply adopted the same phraseology as that used for the ratification of the Constitution.A. Thus. section 27.A. No. 13. 18. Lanao del Sur. section 18 must have been understood by the people when they ratified the Constitution. but on the will of the majority in each of the constituent units and the proviso underscores this. among those enumerated in R. .(Article XIX) of the Organic Act. the creation of the autonomous region shall take effect only when approved by a majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite. petitioner Mama-o. sec. X. or both? We need not go beyond the Constitution to resolve this question. No. He insists that R. "the creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite called for the purpose. this is also the sense in which the vote requirement in the plebiscite provided under Article X. because of its categorical language. thus: SEC. X. The provinces and cities wherein such a majority is not attained shall not be included in the autonomous region. By including areas which do not strictly share the same characteristics. not all of the thirteen (13) provinces and nine (9) cities mentioned in Article II. 2]. No 6734. If the framers of the Constitution intended to require approval by a majority of all the votes cast in the plebiscite they would have so indicated. merge the existing regions. share common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage. No. which incorporates substantially the same requirements embodied in the Constitution and fills in the details. As provided in the Constitution. cities and geographic areas voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the autonomous region. sec. Comparing this with the provision on the creation of the autonomous region. for if the intention of the framers of the Constitution was to get the majority of the totality of the votes cast.. shall compromise it. More importantly. and not all of the thirteen (13) provinces and nine (9) cities included in the Organic Act. The question has been raised as to what this majority means. under the Constitution and R.A. Thus. The single plebiscite contemplated by the Constitution and R. 6734 shall be included therein. Lanao del Norte and Maguindanao and the cities of Marawi and Cotabato. maintains that only those areas which. No. and only those provinces and cities where a majority vote in favor of the Organic Act shall be included in the autonomous region. 18].A. The creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao shall take effect when approved by a majority of the votes cast by the constituent units provided in paragraph (2) of Sec. Invoking the earlier cited constitutional provisions. 6734 will therefore be determinative of (1) whether there shall be an autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao and (2) which provinces and cities. Tawi-Tawi." It is thus clear that what is required by the Constitution is a simple majority of votes approving the organic Act in individual constituent units and not a double majority of the votes in all constituent units put together. to his view. the creation of the Autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao is made effective upon the approval "by majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose" [Art. and other relevant characteristics should be properly included within the coverage of the autonomous region. i. on the other hand. not on the total majority vote in the plebiscite. 6734. provided that only provinces. it is provided that "[t]his Constitution shall take effect immediately upon its ratification by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite held for the purpose . [Art. which reads: 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. Does it refer to a majority of the total votes cast in the plebiscite in all the constituent units. it will readily be seen that the creation of the autonomous region is made to depend. economic and social structures. as well as in the individual constituent units. The provinces and cities which in the plebiscite do not vote for inclusion in the Autonomous Region shall remain the existing administrative determination. 6734 is unconstitutional because only the provinces of Basilan. possess such concurrence in historical and cultural heritage and other relevant characteristics.A.. or a majority in each of the constituent units.e. It may be that even if an autonomous region is created.
Petitioner Abbas supports this objection by enumerating possible instances of conflict between provisions of the Muslim Code and national law. After assailing the inclusion of non-Muslim areas in the Organic Act for lack of basis.M. 95 SCRA 392].By including areas which do not strictly share the same characteristic as the others. No. sec. 1968.R. the Court in this case may not be called upon to resolve what is merely a perceived potential conflict between the provisions the Muslim Code and national law. The guarantee of equal protection is thus not infringed in this case. . 65 Phil. merge the existing regions. This the Court cannot do without doing violence to the separation of governmental powers. 76 Phil. VIII. The provinces and cities which in the plebiscite do not vote for inclusion in the Autonomous Region shall remain in the existing administrative regions: Provided. the classification having been made by Congress on the basis of substantial distinctions as set forth by the Constitution itself.R. Thus it may not be subjected to any "man-made" national law. Macapagal. Petitioner's contention runs counter to the very same constitutional provision he had earlier invoked. petitioner Mama-o would then adopt the extreme view that other non-Muslim areas in Mindanao should likewise be covered.R.R. 372 (1946). the Shari'ah courts created under the same Act should apply national law. Provided. Vera. No. a power which is not conferred by the Constitution upon the President. however. No. judicial power includes the duty to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable. would necessarily carry with it the exclusion of other areas. section 13 of R. According to petitioners. Land tenure Administration. Any review of this ascertainment would have to go into the wisdom of the law. Morfe v. said provision grants the President the power to merge regions. Misa. 1980. In Dumlao v. equal protection permits of reasonable classification [People v. 11. That the President may choose to merge existing regions pursuant to the Organic Act is challenged as being in conflict with Article X. taking into account shared historical and cultural heritage. 1972. Laurel v. L-20387. 1083] and the Tribal Code (still be enacted) on the one had. petitioner claims that Congress has expanded the scope of the autonomous region which the constitution itself has prescribed to be limited. As earlier stated. This being so. no actual controversy between real litigants exists. He argues that since the Organic Act covers several non-Muslim areas. Mutuc. and the national law on the other hand. February 18.A.A. 31 SCRA 413]. the ascertainment by Congress of the areas that share common attributes is within the exclusive realm of the legislature's discretion. As enshrined in the Constitution. February 29. the Court ruled that once class may be treated differently from another where the groupings are based on reasonable and real distinctions. Commission on Elections G. G. J. Electoral Commission. G. [Angara v. its scope should be further broadened to include the rest of the non-Muslim areas in Mindanao in order for the other non-Muslim areas denies said areas equal protection of the law. No. The objection centers on a provision in the Organic Act which mandates that should there be any conflict between the Muslim Code [P. 22 SCRA 424]. Guided by these constitutional criteria.D. 43 SCRA 677]. No. As a condition precedent for the power to be exercised. 52245. That only the provinces and cities voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. such determination by Congress of which areas should be covered by the organic act for the autonomous region constitutes a recognized legislative prerogative. January 22. Section 10 of the Constitution which provides: . . 56 (1963). 1970. Electoral Commission. There are no conflicting claims involving the application of national law resulting in an alleged violation of religious freedom. among others. economic and social structures. wherein an application of national law might be offensive to a Muslim's religious convictions. that the President may. 5]. January 31. In the present case. Petitioners also impugn the constitutionality of Article XIX. Moreover. Petitioners maintain that the islamic law (Shari'ah) is derived from the Koran. and therefore is violative of the Constitution. v. an actual controversy between litigants must first exist [Angara v. Tuason and Co. No. No. The Constitution lays down the standards by which Congress shall determine which areas should constitute the autonomous region. which makes it part of divine law. G. Petitioner's argument is not tenable. [Art. whose wisdom may not be inquired into by this Court. states: . Both petitions also question the validity of R. 6734 on the ground that it violates the constitutional guarantee on free exercise of religion [Art. and other relevant characteristics. Tan v. 6734 which. L-21064. III. Any determination by Congress of what areas in Mindanao should compromise the autonomous region. L-34161. supra. by administrative determination. 63 Phil 139 (1936). Sec.
No province, city, municipality, or barangay may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered, except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government code and subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected. It must be pointed out that what is referred to in R.A. No. 6734 is the merger of administrative regions, i.e. Regions I to XII and the National Capital Region, which are mere groupings of contiguous provinces for administrative purposes [Integrated Reorganization Plan (1972), which was made as part of the law of the land by Pres. dec. No. 1, Pres. Dec. No. 742]. Administrative regions are not territorial and political subdivisions like provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays [see Art. X, sec. 1 of the Constitution]. While the power to merge administrative regions is not expressly provided for in the Constitution, it is a power which has traditionally been lodged with the President to facilitate the exercise of the power of general supervision over local governments [see Art. X, sec. 4 of the Constitution]. There is no conflict between the power of the President to merge administrative regions with the constitutional provision requiring a plebiscite in the merger of local government units because the requirement of a plebiscite in a merger expressly applies only to provinces, cities, municipalities or barangays, not to administrative regions. Petitioners likewise question the validity of provisions in the Organic Act which create an Oversight Committee to supervise the transfer to the autonomous region of the powers, appropriations, and properties vested upon the regional government by the organic Act [Art. XIX, Secs. 3 and 4]. Said provisions mandate that the transfer of certain national government offices and their properties to the regional government shall be made pursuant to a schedule prescribed by the Oversight Committee, and that such transfer should be accomplished within six (6) years from the organization of the regional government. It is asserted by petitioners that such provisions are unconstitutional because while the Constitution states that the creation of the autonomous region shall take effect upon approval in a plebiscite, the requirement of organizing an Oversight committee tasked with supervising the transfer of powers and properties to the regional government would in effect delay the creation of the autonomous region. Under the Constitution, the creation of the autonomous region hinges only on the result of the plebiscite. if the Organic Act is approved by majority of the votes cast by constituent units in the scheduled plebiscite, the creation of the autonomous region immediately takes effect delay the creation of the autonomous region. Under the constitution, the creation of the autonomous region hinges only on the result of the plebiscite. if the Organic Act is approved by majority of the votes cast by constituent units in the scheduled plebiscite, the creation of the autonomous region immediately takes effect. The questioned provisions in R.A. No. 6734 requiring an oversight Committee to supervise the transfer do not provide for a different date of effectivity. Much less would the organization of the Oversight Committee cause an impediment to the operation of the Organic Act, for such is evidently aimed at effecting a smooth transition period for the regional government. The constitutional objection on this point thus cannot be sustained as there is no bases therefor. Every law has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality [Yu Cong Eng v. Trinidad, 47 Phil. 387 (1925); Salas v. Jarencio, G.R. No. L-29788, August 30, 1979, 46 SCRA 734; Morfe v. Mutuc, supra; Peralta v. COMELEC, G.R. No. L-47771, March 11, 1978, 82 SCRA 30]. Those who petition this Court to declare a law, or parts thereof, unconstitutional must clearly establish the basis for such a declaration. otherwise, their petition must fail. Based on the grounds raised by petitioners to challenge the constitutionality of R.A. No. 6734, the Court finds that petitioners have failed to overcome the presumption. The dismissal of these two petitions is, therefore, inevitable. WHEREFORE, the petitions are DISMISSED for lack of merit.
Bai Sema vs COMELEC These consolidated petitions seek to annul Resolution No. 7902, dated 10 May 2007, of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) treating Cotabato City as part of the legislative district of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan. The Facts The Ordinance appended to the 1987 Constitution apportioned two legislative districts for the Province of Maguindanao. The first legislative district consists of Cotabato City and eight municipalities. Maguindanao forms part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), created under its Organic Act, Republic Act No. 6734 (RA 6734), as amended by Republic Act No. 9054 (RA 9054). Although under the Ordinance, Cotabato City forms part of Maguindanao's first legislative district, it is not part of the ARMM but of Region XII, having voted against its inclusion in the ARMM in the plebiscite held in November 1989. On 28 August 2006, the ARMM's legislature, the ARMM Regional Assembly, exercising its power to create provinces under Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054, enacted Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 201 (MMA Act 201) creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan composed of the eight municipalities in the first district of Maguindanao. MMA Act 201 provides: Section 1. The Municipalities of Barira, Buldon, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Kabuntalan, Matanog, Parang, Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura, and Upi are hereby separated from the Province of Maguindanao and constituted into a distinct and independent province, which is hereby created, to be known as the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan. Sec. 5. The corporate existence of this province shall commence upon the appointment by the Regional Governor or election of the governor and majority of the regular members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. The incumbent elective provincial officials of the Province of Maguindanao shall continue to serve their unexpired terms in the province that they will choose or where they are residents: Provided, that where an elective position in both provinces becomes vacant as a consequence of the creation of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan, all incumbent elective provincial officials shall have preference for appointment to a higher elective vacant position and for the time being be appointed by the Regional Governor, and shall hold office until their successors shall have been elected and qualified in the next local elections; Provided, further, that they shall continue to receive the salaries they are receiving at the time of the approval of this Act until the new readjustment of salaries in accordance with law. Provided, furthermore, that there shall be no diminution in the number of the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the mother province. Except as may be provided by national law, the existing legislative district, which includes Cotabato as a part thereof, shall remain. Later, three new municipalities were carved out of the original nine municipalities constituting Shariff Kabunsuan, bringing its total number of municipalities to 11. Thus, what was left of Maguindanao were the municipalities constituting its second legislative district. Cotabato City, although part of Maguindanao's first legislative district, is not part of the Province of Maguindanao. The voters of Maguindanao ratified Shariff Kabunsuan's creation in a plebiscite held on 29 October 2006. On 6 February 2007, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cotabato City passed Resolution No. 3999 requesting the COMELEC to "clarify the status of Cotabato City in view of the conversion of the First District of Maguindanao into a regular province" under MMA Act 201. In answer to Cotabato City's query, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 07-0407 on 6 March 2007 "maintaining the status quo with Cotabato City as part of Shariff Kabunsuan in the First Legislative District of
Maguindanao." Resolution No. 07-0407, which adopted the recommendation of the COMELEC's Law Department under a Memorandum dated 27 February 2007, provides in pertinent parts: Considering the foregoing, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby resolves, to adopt the recommendation of the Law Department that pending the enactment of the appropriate law by Congress, to maintain the status quo with Cotabato City as part of Shariff Kabunsuan in the First Legislative District of Maguindanao. (Emphasis supplied) However, in preparation for the 14 May 2007 elections, the COMELEC promulgated on 29 March 2007 Resolution No. 7845 stating that Maguindanao's first legislative district is composed only of Cotabato City because of the enactment of MMA Act 201. On 10 May 2007, the COMELEC issued Resolution No. 7902, subject of these petitions, amending Resolution No. 07-0407 by renaming the legislative district in question as "Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City (formerly First District of Maguindanao with Cotabato City)." In G.R. No. 177597, Sema, who was a candidate in the 14 May 2007 elections for Representative of "Shariff Kabunsuan with Cotabato City," prayed for the nullification of COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 and the exclusion from canvassing of the votes cast in Cotabato City for that office. Sema contended that Shariff Kabunsuan is entitled to one representative in Congress under Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. Thus, Sema asserted that the COMELEC acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction in issuing Resolution No. 7902 which maintained the status quo in Maguindanao's first legislative district despite the COMELEC's earlier directive in Resolution No. 7845 designating Cotabato City as the lone component of Maguindanao's reapportioned first legislative district. Sema further claimed that in issuing Resolution No. 7902, the COMELEC usurped Congress' power to create or reapportion legislative districts. In its Comment, the COMELEC, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), chose not to reach the merits of the case and merely contended that (1) Sema wrongly availed of the writ of certiorari to nullify COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 because the COMELEC issued the same in the exercise of its administrative, not quasi-judicial, power and (2) Sema's prayer for the writ of prohibition in G.R. No. 177597 became moot with the proclamation of respondent Didagen P. Dilangalen (respondent Dilangalen) on 1 June 2007 as representative of the legislative district of Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City. In his Comment, respondent Dilangalen countered that Sema is estopped from questioning COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 because in her certificate of candidacy filed on 29 March 2007, Sema indicated that she was seeking election as representative of "Shariff Kabunsuan including Cotabato City." Respondent Dilangalen added that COMELEC Resolution No. 7902 is constitutional because it did not apportion a legislative district for Shariff Kabunsuan or reapportion the legislative districts in Maguindanao but merely renamed Maguindanao's first legislative district. Respondent Dilangalen further claimed that the COMELEC could not reapportion Maguindanao's first legislative district to make Cotabato City its sole component unit as the power to reapportion legislative districts lies exclusively with Congress, not to mention that Cotabato City does not meet the minimum population requirement under Section 5 (3), Article VI of the Constitution for the creation of a legislative district within a city. Sema filed a Consolidated Reply controverting the matters raised in respondents' Comments and reiterating her claim that the COMELEC acted ultra vires in issuing Resolution No. 7902. In the Resolution of 4 September 2007, the Court required the parties in G.R. No. 177597 to comment on the issue of whether a province created by the ARMM Regional Assembly under Section 19, Article VI of RA 9054 is entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives without need of a national law creating a legislative district for such new province. The parties submitted their compliance as follows: (1) Sema answered the issue in the affirmative on the following grounds: (a) the Court in Felwa v. Salas stated that "when a province is created by statute, the corresponding representative district comes into existence
On 27 November 2007. 177597 filed their respective Memoranda on the issues raised in the oral arguments. However. the parties in G. Sema proposed that Section 19 "should be construed as prohibiting the Regional Assembly from prescribing standards x x x that do not comply with the minimum criteria" under RA 7160. (b) Section 462 of Republic Act No. (c) recognizing a legislative district in every province the ARMM Regional Assembly creates will lead to the disproportionate representation of the ARMM in the House of Representatives as the Regional Assembly can create provinces without regard to the requirements in Section 461 of RA 7160. the Court heard the parties in G. Article X of the Constitution granting to the autonomous regions. (2) The COMELEC. No. Article VI of RA 9054. Thus. Article VI of RA 9054 is unconstitutional because (a) it contravenes Section 10 and Section . (2) Respondent Dilangalen contended that Section 19.R. if taken literally. but by operation of the Constitution. and (c) Section 5 (3). through their organic acts. joined causes with respondent Dilangalen (thus effectively abandoning the position the COMELEC adopted in its Compliance with the Resolution of 4 September 2007) and contended that Section 19. Article X of the Constitution and (b) the grant under Section 19. and (3) The COMELEC. Article VI of the Constitution is one that is created by an act of Congress taking into account the provisions in RA 7160 on the creation of provinces. 177597 in oral arguments on the following issues: (1) whether Section 19. 177597 adopted the following positions: (1) Sema contended that Section 19. contending that Section 5 (3). Article VI of RA 9054. (b) Section 3. Article VI of RA 9054 to the ARMM Regional Assembly of the power to "prescribe standards lower than those mandated" in RA 7160 in the creation of provinces contravenes Section 10. 07-0407 and 7902 and joined causes with Sema. again represented by the OSG.neither by authority of that statute — which cannot provide otherwise — nor by apportionment. every new province created by the ARMM Regional Assembly is ipso facto entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives even in the absence of a national law. Article VI of RA 9054 to the ARMM Regional Assembly of the power to prescribe standards lower than those mandated in Section 461 of RA 7160 on the creation of provinces contravenes Section 10. delegating to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces. the grant in Section 19. Article VI of RA 9054 is entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives without need of a national law creating a legislative district for such new province. Article VI of the Constitution is "self-executing. 7160 (RA 7160) "affirms" the apportionment of a legislative district incident to the creation of a province.R. Sema concedes that. Article VI of RA 9054 is unconstitutional on the following grounds: (a) the power to create provinces was not among those granted to the autonomous regions under Section 20.000. without a reapportionment". On the question of the constitutionality of Section 19. whether a province created under Section 19. and (2) if in the affirmative. Article X of the Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause.R. through the OSG. Article VI of RA 9054 is constitutional (a) as a valid delegation by Congress to the ARMM of the power to create provinces under Section 20 (9). legislative powers over "other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion of the general welfare of the people of the region" and (b) as an amendment to Section 6 of RA 7160. Article IV of RA 9054 withheld from the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to enact measures relating to national elections. the parties in G. In compliance with the Resolution dated 27 November 2007. is constitutional. and (d) Cotabato City. No. apparently abandoned its earlier stance on the propriety of issuing Resolution Nos." Thus. Article VI of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution mandate the apportionment of a legislative district in newly created provinces. No. which has a population of less than 250. is not entitled to a representative in the House of Representatives. and (3) Respondent Dilangalen answered the issue in the negative on the following grounds: (a) the "province" contemplated in Section 5 (3). which encompasses the apportionment of legislative districts for members of the House of Representatives. Article X of the Constitution.
No. II. Article VI of RA 9054. Rules and Regulations The purpose of the writ of Certiorari is to correct grave abuse of discretion by "any tribunal. the Court ordered G. No. No. Prohibition. is constitutional. maintained the validity of COMELEC Resolution No. whether a province created by the ARMM Regional Assembly under MMA Act 201 pursuant to Section 19. Article VI of RA 9054 is entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives without need of a national law creating a legislative district for such province.R. and (2) whether the proclamation of respondent Dilangalen as representative of Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City mooted the petition in G. Article VI of RA 9054 is entitled to one representative in the House of Representatives without need of a national law creating a legislative district for such new province. 7902 as a temporary measure pending the enactment by Congress of the "appropriate law. 178628. through the OSG. Article X of the Constitution. Article X of the Constitution and (b) the power to create provinces was withheld from the autonomous regions under Section 20.R. In its Comment to the petition in G. whether COMELEC Resolution No. and (3) COMELEC Resolution No. We rule that (1) Section 19. The Ruling of the Court The petitions have no merit. 178628. No. Sema and respondent Dilangalen reiterated in their Memoranda the positions they adopted in their Compliance with the Resolution of 4 September 2007. On the Preliminary Matters The Writ of Prohibition is Appropriate to Test the Constitutionality of Election Laws.R.R No. In G. or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions. 177597. in the Resolution of 19 February 2008. the writ of Mandamus will issue to compel ." On the other hand. board.6. No. The COMELEC deemed it unnecessary to submit its position on this issue considering its stance that Section 19. Article VI of RA 9054 is unconstitutional. 7902 is valid.R No. No. 7902. and (2) if in the affirmative. despite the creation of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan out of such district (excluding Cotabato City). In G. the COMELEC. (2) MMA Act 201 creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan is void. Thus. 177597: (A) Preliminarily (1) whether the writs of Certiorari.R. No. 177597 and G. 178628 was disclosed during the oral arguments on 27 November 2007. and Mandamus are proper to test the constitutionality of COMELEC Resolution No.R.R." The Issues The petitions raise the following issues: I. delegating to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces. The petition in G. 7902 depriving the voters of Cotabato City of a representative in the House of Representatives. Article VI of RA 9054 is unconstitutional insofar as it grants to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces and cities. On the question of whether a province created under Section 19. municipalities and barangays.R. 178628 consolidated with G. cities. 178628 echoed Sema's contention that the COMELEC acted ultra vires in issuing Resolution No. 177597. 7902 is valid for maintaining the status quo in the first legislative district of Maguindanao (as "Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City [formerly First District of Maguindanao with Cotabato City]"). (B) On the merits (1) whether Section 19. The pendency of the petition in G.
There is no provision in the Constitution that conflicts with the delegation to regional legislative bodies of the power to create municipalities and barangays. 10. However. "only x x x an Act of Congress" can create provinces. cities. corporation. Under Section 19. this incidental consequence is no reason for us not to proceed with the resolution of the novel issues raised here. city. board. Second. municipalities and barangays conflicts with any provision of the Constitution. merged. Congress has delegated to provincial boards. the outcome of this petition. and regulations. Congress made the delegation under its plenary legislative powers because the power to create local government units is not one of the express legislative powers granted by the Constitution to regional legislative bodies.must comply with three conditions. 7902 in the exercise of its judicial or quasi-judicial functions. On the Main Issues Whether the ARMM Regional Assembly Can Create the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan The creation of local government units is governed by Section 10. abolished or its boundary substantially altered except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government code and subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite in the political units directly affected. the question arises whether the delegation to the ARMM Regional Assembly of the power to create provinces. In fact. 177597 because Sema also prayed for the issuance of the writ of Prohibition and we have long recognized this writ as proper for testing the constitutionality of election laws. Thus. No. There is neither an express prohibition nor an express grant of authority in the Constitution for Congress to delegate to regional or local legislative bodies the power to create local government units. Article VI of RA 9054. No province. one way or another. Congress can delegate to local legislative bodies the power to create local government units. officer. The Court's ruling in these petitions affects not only the recently concluded elections but also all the other succeeding elections for the office in question. Article VI of RA 9054. the creation of a local government unit must follow the criteria fixed in the Local Government Code. determines whether the votes cast in Cotabato City for representative of the district of "Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City" will be included in the canvassing of ballots. however. which provides: Sec. Article X of the Constitution. Article X of the Constitution.R. municipalities and barangays within the ARMM. municipality. 7902. In the present case. cities. Nor is there a law which specifically enjoins the COMELEC to exclude from canvassing the votes cast in Cotabato City for representative of "Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City. subject to reasonable standards and provided no conflict arises with any provision of the Constitution. as well as the constitutionality of MMA Act 201 and Section 19. there must be a plebiscite in the political units affected. Third. This case does not concern respondent Dilangalen's election. under its plenary legislative powers. or barangay may be created. provided Section 10. cities or municipalities. under the Local Government Code. subject to compliance with the criteria established in the Local Government Code. do not justify the outright dismissal of the petition in G. Congress delegated to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces. Rather. However. Article X of the Constitution is .a tribunal. it involves an inquiry into the validity of COMELEC Resolution No." True.province. divided. such creation must not conflict with any provision of the Constitution. city. or person to perform an act "which the law specifically enjoins as a duty. and the plebiscite requirement in Section 10. and city and municipal councils. municipality or barangay ." These. Admittedly. the COMELEC did not issue Resolution No. the power to create barangays within their jurisdiction. the creation of any of the four local government units . First. Respondent Dilangalen's Proclamation Does Not Moot the Petition There is also no merit in the claim that respondent Dilangalen's proclamation as winner in the 14 May 2007 elections for representative of "Shariff Kabunsuan Province with Cotabato City" mooted this petition. However. as well as the power of the ARMM Regional Assembly to create in the future additional provinces. rules.
 we held that the "power of redistricting x x x is traditionally regarded as part of the power (of Congress) to make laws. Section 5 (4) empowers Congress to reapportion legislative districts. "Any province that may hereafter be created. and adjacent territory. For the same reason.000 or more. as far as practicable. it must also validly delegate at the same time the power to create a legislative district. and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio. a city with a population of 250. In Montejo v. Article VI of the Constitution provides: SECTION 5. requires also the power to create a legislative district. and the Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants. (4) Within three years following the return of every census. the city automatically becomes entitled to one representative under Section 5 (3). Each city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand. the power to create a province. can Congress validly delegate to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create legislative districts for the House of Representatives? The answer is in the negative. The power to reapportion legislative districts necessarily includes the power to create legislative districts out of existing ones.000 involves the power to create a legislative district because once the city's population reaches 250. the Congress shall make a reapportionment of legislative districts based on the standards provided in this section. and new legislative districts of Congress can be created. Section 5. through a law. and those who. Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution provides. as well as in past Constitutions. Thus.000.000 or more cannot also be created without a legislative district. or a city with a population of 250. Article VI of the Constitution as well as Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. Thus. a province cannot be created without a legislative district because it will violate Section 5 (3). Article VI of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. The threshold issue then is. the creation of provinces and cities is another matter. regional. cities. COMELEC. shall have at least one representative. Similarly. Legislative Districts are Created or Reapportioned Only by an Act of Congress Under the present Constitution. This textual commitment to Congress of the exclusive power to create or reapportion legislative districts is logical. (3) Each legislative district shall comprise. compact. contiguous. only through a national law passed by Congress. is vested exclusively in Congress." Clearly. as provided by law. Only Congress can . shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national. The allowable membership of the House of Representatives can be increased. and sectoral parties or organizations. For Congress to delegate validly the power to create a province or city. However.followed. (1) The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and fifty members. the allowable membership in the House of Representatives. Article VI of the Constitution vests in Congress the power to increase. the power to increase the allowable membership in the House of Representatives. Article VI of the Constitution provides. and not through a law that regional or local legislative bodies enact. "Each city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand. or any city whose population may hereafter increase to more than two hundred fifty thousand shall be entitled in the immediately following election to at least one Member x x x. Even the creation of a city with a population of less than 250. or each province. Congress exercises these powers through a law that Congress itself enacts. Section 5 (3). and to reapportion legislative districts. Congress is a national legislature and any increase in its allowable membership or in its incumbent membership through the creation of legislative districts must be embodied in a national law. (Emphasis supplied) Section 5 (1). shall have at least one representative" in the House of Representatives. unless otherwise fixed by law." and thus is vested exclusively in Congress. who shall be elected from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces. or each province. the power to create a province or city inherently involves the power to create a legislative district.
provides. 177597. This violates Section 20. the existing legislative district. It would be anomalous for regional or local legislative bodies to create or reapportion legislative districts for a national legislature like Congress. recognized the exclusive nature of Congress' power to create or reapportion legislative districts by abstaining from creating a legislative district for Shariff Kabunsuan. It would be incongruous for a regional legislative body like the ARMM Regional Assembly to create a national office when its legislative powers extend only to its regional territory. Article X of the Constitution authorizes autonomous regions. the office of a legislative district representative to Congress is a national office. as amended. Section 3. and the grant of legislative powers to its Regional Assembly under its organic act. is a national official. Sema. Section 20.(8) Preservation and development of the cultural heritage. and(9) Such other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion of the general welfare of the people of the region.(3) Ancestral domain and natural resources. Thus. Indeed. which includes Cotabato City as a part thereof. "The Regional Assembly may exercise legislative power x x x except on the following matters: x x x (k) National elections. and tourism development. petitioner in G. To allow the ARMM Regional Assembly to create a national office is to allow its legislative powers to operate outside the ARMM's territorial jurisdiction." The ARMM Regional Assembly itself. did not divest Congress of its exclusive authority to create legislative districts. The creation of the ARMM.(7) Educational policies. An inferior legislative body. (6) Economic." Since the ARMM Regional Assembly has no legislative power to enact laws relating to national elections." Thus.(2) Creation of sources of revenues. the organic act of autonomous regions shall provide for legislative powers over: (1) Administrative organization.(4) Personal. and its occupant. contends that Section 5 (3). Within its territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of this Constitution and national laws. the first representative is always elected in the "next national elections" from the effectivity of the law. the creation of the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan without a legislative district is unconstitutional.enact such a law. in creating Shariff Kabunsuan. and property relations. On the other hand. It is a self-evident inherent limitation on the legislative powers of every local or regional legislative body that it can only create local or regional offices. social. Article X of the Constitution which expressly limits the coverage of the Regional Assembly's legislative powers "[w]ithin its territorial jurisdiction x x x. expressly or impliedly. Article VI of the Constitution. shall remain. No. x x x. family. The office of a district representative is maintained by national funds and the salary of its occupant is paid out of national funds. Whenever Congress enacts a law creating a legislative district.(5) Regional urban and rural planning development. Section 5 of MMA Act 201 provides that: Except as may be provided by national law. which provides: . (Emphasis supplied) However. Nothing in Section 20. Article X of the Constitution provides: SECTION 20. respectively. to create or reapportion legislative districts for Congress. a Member of the House of Representatives. a province cannot legally be created without a legislative district because the Constitution mandates that "each province shall have at least one representative. Article IV of RA 9054 amending the ARMM Organic Act.R. This is clear from the Constitution and the ARMM Organic Act. created by a superior legislative body. it cannot create a legislative district whose representative is elected in national elections. cannot change the membership of the superior legislative body. and it can never create a national office.
without a reapportionment." Pursuant to this Section. creating the provinces of Benguet. petitioner invokes the statement in Felwa that "when a province is created by statute. but. First. which is not the effect of the legislation under consideration. The issue in Felwa. without complying with the aforementioned requirements. as far as practicable. and Kalinga-Apayao and providing for congressional representation in the old and new provinces. and do not apply to those incidental to the creation of provinces. This is deducible. the corresponding representative district." The Court answered in the negative. except. As further support for her stance. contiguous and compact territory. shall have at least one representative. but by operation of the Constitution. or (b) by direct creation of several representative districts within a province. 4695 (RA 4695). There is no constitutional limitation as to the time when. Each city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand. through the creation of a province — for "each province shall have at least one member" in the House of Representatives. but each province shall have at least one Member. a representative district may come into existence: (a) indirectly. provinces have been created or subdivided into other provinces. is automatically entitled to one member in the House of Representatives in the 14 May 2007 elections. Until such apportionment shall have been made. the House of Representatives shall have the same number of Members as that fixed by law for the National Assembly. Ifugao. the corresponding representative district comes into existence neither by authority of that statute — which cannot provide otherwise — nor by apportionment. Indeed. Section 5 of Article VI of the Constitution. without a reapportionment. not only from the general tenor of the provision above quoted. perhaps. territory of. under the first method. which states: Any province that may hereafter be created. was whether Republic Act No. Mountain Province. or other conditions under which a province may be created. thus: The Constitution ordains: "The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than one hundred and twenty Members who shall be apportioned among the several provinces as nearly as may be according to the number of their respective inhabitants. and adjacent territory. contiguous. but by operation of the Constitution. also. (Emphasis supplied) . compact. when a province is created by statute. or any city whose population may hereafter increase to more than two hundred fifty thousand shall be entitled in the immediately following election to at least one Member or such number of Members as it may be entitled to on the basis of the number of its inhabitants and according to the standards set forth in paragraph (3). or each province. is geographically located shall be correspondingly adjusted by the Commission on Elections but such adjustment shall not be made within one hundred and twenty days before the election. comes into existence neither by authority of that statute — which cannot provide otherwise — nor by apportionment.Each legislative district shall comprise. and not otherwise. Each representative district shall comprise as far as practicable. who shall be elected by the qualified electors from the present Assembly districts. if the consequence thereof were to exceed the maximum of 120 representative districts prescribed in the Constitution. The requirements concerning the apportionment of representative districts and the territory thereof refer only to the second method of creation of representative districts. from the fact that the apportionment therein alluded to refers to that which is made by an Act of Congress. The Congress shall by law make an apportionment within three years after the return of every enumeration. (Emphasis supplied) It serve as bases for the conclusion that the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan." The contention has no merit. As a matter of fact. with the consequent creation of additional representative districts. among others. The number of Members apportioned to the province out of which such new province was created or where the city. was unconstitutional for "creati[ng] congressional districts without the apportionment provided in the Constitution. created on 29 October 2006. (Emphasis supplied) and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. whose population has so increased.
Thus. No. 177597 highlights the absurdity of Sema's position that the ARMM Regional Assembly can create provinces: Neither the framers of the 1987 Constitution in adopting the provisions in Article X on regional autonomy.000. Even the ARMM Regional Assembly recognizes this. To constitute Cotabato City alone as the surviving first legislative district of Maguindanao will violate Section 5 (3). if as Sema claims MMA Act 201 apportioned a legislative district to Shariff Kabunsuan upon its creation. and minimum contiguous territory of 2.000. This does not detract from the constitutional principle that the power to create legislative districts belongs exclusively to Congress.000. Sema's theory also undermines the composition and independence of the House of Representatives. but also from Congress' power to create provinces which cannot be created without a legislative district. it had a population of only 163." Second. and (3) Representatives from the ARMM provinces can become the majority in the House of Representatives through the ARMM Regional Assembly's continuous creation of provinces or cities within the ARMM. Article VI of RA 9054. nor Congress in enacting RA 9054. the ARMM Regional Assembly can create provinces and cities within the ARMM with or without regard to the criteria fixed in Section 461 of RA 7160. The following scenarios thus become distinct possibilities: (1) An inferior legislative body like the ARMM Regional Assembly can create 100 or more provinces and thus increase the membership of a superior legislative body.Thus. What Felwa teaches is that the creation of a legislative district by Congress does not emanate alone from Congress' power to reapportion legislative districts. from creating provinces because for a legislative body to create a province such legislative body must have the power to create legislative districts. only an act of Congress can trigger the creation of a legislative district by operation of the Constitution.000 square kilometers or minimum population of 250. Moreover. namely: minimum annual income of P20. The following exchange during the oral arguments of the petition in G. the Court sustained the constitutionality of RA 4695 because (1) it validly created legislative districts "indirectly" through a special law enacted by Congress creating a province and (2) the creation of the legislative districts will not result in breaching the maximum number of legislative districts provided under the 1935 Constitution. not the regional . (2) The proportional representation in the House of Representatives based on one representative for at least every 250.R. The Constitution empowered Congress to create or reapportion legislative districts. or trigger the creation of. Here. a legislative district. only Congress has the power to create. In short. the new province was created merely by a regional law enacted by the ARMM Regional Assembly. envisioned or intended these disastrous consequences that certainly would wreck the tri-branch system of government under our Constitution. except Congress. this will leave Cotabato City as the lone component of the first legislative district of Maguindanao. the power to create or reapportion legislative districts cannot be delegated by Congress but must be exercised by Congress itself. Under Section 19. Clearly. a legislative district is created by operation of the Constitution because the Constitution provides that "each province shall have at least one representative" in the House of Representatives. the House of Representatives. Cotabato City cannot constitute a legislative district by itself because as of the census taken in 2000. Article VI of the Constitution which requires that "[E]ach city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand x x x. when a province is created.849. beyond the maximum limit of 250 fixed in the Constitution (unless a national law provides otherwise). However.000 residents will be negated because the ARMM Regional Assembly need not comply with the requirement in Section 461(a)(ii) of RA 7160 that every province created must have a population of at least 250. Thus. shall have at least one representative. It merely prevents any other legislative body.000. Felwa does not apply to the present case because in Felwa the new provinces were created by a national law enacted by Congress itself.
Incidentally. Thus. Resolution No. we declare VOID Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 201 creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan. much less than the 219 incumbent district representatives. we hold that COMELEC Resolution No. Article VI of RA 9054. Moreover. This leaves only 200 seats for district representatives. Article VI of Republic Act No. 7902 Complies with the Constitution Consequently.assemblies. we rule that COMELEC Resolution No. Only Congress can create provinces and cities because the creation of provinces and cities necessarily includes the creation of legislative districts. as well as Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. Article X of the Constitution. ." The Preamble of the ARMM Organic Act (RA 9054) itself states that the ARMM Government is established "within the framework of the Constitution. 9054 UNCONSTITUTIONAL insofar as it grants to the Regional Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao the power to create provinces and cities. It is axiomatic that organic acts of autonomous regions cannot prevail over the Constitution. as well as Section 1 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. the ARMM Regional Assembly cannot enact a law creating a national office like the office of a district representative of Congress because the legislative powers of the ARMM Regional Assembly operate only within its territorial jurisdiction as provided in Section 20. because the creation of such municipalities and barangays does not involve the creation of legislative districts. preserving the geographic and legislative district of the First District of Maguindanao with Cotabato City. a power only Congress can exercise under Section 5. Since party-list members shall constitute 20 percent of total membership of the House. Thus. there are 219 district representatives out of the maximum 250 seats in the House of Representatives. Thus. The ARMM Regional Assembly cannot create a province without a legislative district because the Constitution mandates that every province shall have a legislative district. The Court will not pass upon the constitutionality of the creation of municipalities and barangays that does not comply with the criteria established in Section 461 of RA 7160. an increase that only Congress can decide. 7902. insofar as it grants to the ARMM Regional Assembly the power to create provinces and cities. Section 20. is void for being contrary to Section 5 of Article VI and Section 20 of Article X of the Constitution. there is a need now for Congress to increase by law the allowable membership of the House. In summary. there should at least be 50 party-list seats available in every election in case 50 partylist candidates are proclaimed winners. Consequently. Article X of the Constitution expressly provides that the legislative powers of regional assemblies are limited "[w]ithin its territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of the Constitution and national laws. we rule that MMA Act 201. we declare Section 19. The reason is that the creation of a province increases the actual membership of the House of Representatives. Article VI of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Ordinance appended to the Constitution. Article X of the Constitution. as mandated in Section 10." This follows Section 15. is void." The present case involves the creation of a local government unit that necessarily involves also the creation of a legislative district. is valid as it merely complies with Section 5 of Article VI and Section 20 of Article X of the Constitution. in the present 14th Congress. We leave the resolution of this issue to an appropriate case." refers to a province created by Congress itself through a national law. 7902 is VALID. WHEREFORE. we rule that Section 19. "[A]ny province that may hereafter be created x x x shall be entitled in the immediately following election to at least one Member. x x x. enacted by the ARMM Regional Assembly and creating the Province of Shariff Kabunsuan. Article X of the Constitution which mandates that the ARMM "shall be created x x x within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines. even before Congress can create new provinces. Section 3 of the Ordinance to the Constitution which states.
known as Republic Act 4790. the municipality of Parang. Offshoot is the present original petition for certiorari and prohibition. it kept the public in the dark as to what towns and provinces were actually affected by the bill that even a Congressman from Cotabato voted for it only to find out later on that it is to the prejudice of his own province. Tabangao. Langkong. Digakapan. Sarakan. Sec. Kabamakawan. Sarakan. Kat-bo. The first mayor. Province of Cotabato. which created Dianaton but which includes barrios located in another province – Cotabato – to be spared from attack planted upon the constitutional mandate that “No bill which may be enacted into law shall embrace more than one subject which shall be expressed in the title of the bill? HELD: The baneful effect of the defective title here presented is not so difficult to perceive. The question initially presented to the Commission on Elections. On June 18. ISSUE: Is RA 4790. also in the Province of Cotabato and not of Lanao del Sur. These are the pressures which heavily weigh against the constitutionality of RA 4790. but which includes barrios located in another province — Cotabato — to be spared from attack planted upon the constitutional mandate that “No bill which may be enacted into law shall embrace more than one subject which shall be expressed in the title of the bill”? Comelec’s answer is in the affirmative. are separated from said municipalities and constituted into a distinct and independent municipality of the same province to be known as the Municipality of Dianaton. Dagowan. Madalum.1 is this: Is Republic Act 4790. even the Congressman of Cotabato voted in favor of RA 4790. Later. now in dispute.Province of Cotabato. Magabo. Kapatagan. Lidasan came to know later on that barrios Togaig and Madalum just mentioned are within the municipality of Buldon. Langkong. Bungabung. 3. [Remarkably. . Magabo. 2. vice-mayor and councilors of the new municipality shall be elected in the nineteen hundred sixty-seven general elections for local officials. and that Bayanga. Digakapan. Matimos and Magolatung. The seat of government of the municipality shall be in Togaig.] Pursuant to this law. Bakikis. it did not apprise the people in the towns of Buldon and Parang in Cotabato and in the province of Cotabato itself that part of their territory is being taken away from their towns and province and added to the adjacent Province of Lanao del Sur. Sarakan. Province of Lanao del Sur. Kat-bo. RA 4790. Magabo. Colodan. Bayanga. reads: Sec. Lidasan then filed that RA 4790 be nullified for being unconstitutional because it did not clearly indicate in its title that it in creating Dianaton. Aipang. The body of the statute. Losain. in the Municipalities of Butig and Balabagan. the Chief Executive signed into law House Bill 1247. Tabangao. Tiongko. and Kabamakawan are parts and parcel of another municipality.” was passed. Bongabong. Such title did not inform the members of Congress as to the full impact of the law. Cotabato. Langkong. Sec. Tiongko. Tabangao. reproduced in haec verba. Barrios Togaig. which is entitled “An Act Creating the Municipality of Dianaton in the Province of Lanao del Sur. 1. COMELEC proceeded to establish precints for voter registration in the said territories of Dianaton. it would be including in the territory thereof barrios from Cotabato. It came to light later that barrios Togaig and Madalum just mentioned are within the municipality of Buldon. Province of Lanao del Sur. Colodan. Digakapan. 1966. which is entitled “An Act Creating the Municipality of Dianaton in the Province of Lanao del Sur”. Kat-bo. This Act shall take effect upon its approval. and that Bayanga.Lidasan vs COMELEC Political Law – Effect if Title Does Not Completely Express the Subject Lidasan is a resident of Parang.
Bakikis. Lanao del Sur. 1967 implementing the same for electoral purposes. the municipality of Parang. the persons interested in the subject of the bill. twelve barrios — in two municipalities in the province of Cotabato — are transferred to the province of Lanao del Sur. and the public. Doubtless. 1967 and September 20. Matimos. being of local application. only its title was read from its introduction to its final approval in the House of Representatives 4 where the bill. recommended to Comelec that the operation of the statute be suspended until “clarified by correcting legislation.” Comelec. as the statute stands. the Commission RESOLVED that pursuant to RA 4790. fully index or catalogue all the contents and the minute details therein. on September 7. First. and that Comelec’s resolutions of August 15. Langkong. originated. Of relevance here is the second directive. also of Cotabato. 1967. Kat-bo. The subject of the statute must be “expressed in the title” of the bill. the Office of the President. 1. Petitioner relies upon the constitutional requirement aforestated. He prays that Republic Act 4790 be declared unconstitutional. and a qualified voter for the 1967 elections. Congress is to refrain from conglomeration. Cotabato. which became Republic Act 4790. be nullified.”3 Compliance is imperative. through the Assistant Executive Secretary. Colodan and Kabamakawan situated in the municipality of Parang. the Constitution does not require Congress to employ in the title of an enactment. the barrios of Togaig and Madalum situated in the municipality of Buldon. Comelec adopted its resolution of August 15.” This triggered the present original action for certiorari and prohibition by Bara Lidasan. of heterogeneous subjects. Cotabato. Sarakan. This constitutional requirement “breathes the spirit of command. Lanao del Sur shall comprise the barrios of Kapatagan. that “[n]o bill which may be enacted into law shall embrace more than one subject which shall be expressed in the title of the bill. right at the outset. Digakapan. also in theProvince of Cotabato and not of Lanao del Sur. in the case of House Bill 1247. Apprised of this development.5 Of course. Dagowan. Magabo. registration of voters and for other election purposes. 1967. It suffices if the title should serve the purpose of the constitutional demand that it inform the legislators. Bongabong. stood by its own interpretation. under one statute. Aipang. and Magolatung situated in the municipality of Balabagan.” 2 It may be well to state. the barrios of Bayanga. given the fact that the Constitution does not exact of Congress the obligation to read during its deliberations the entire text of the bill. that the constitutional provision contains dual limitations upon legislative power. a resident and taxpayer of the detached portion of Parang. 1967. scope and consequences of the proposed . Tabangao. the pertinent portions of which are: For purposes of establishment of precincts. Prompted by the coming elections. Bungabung. The title of the bill is to be couched in a language sufficient to notify the legislators and the public and those concerned of the import of the single subject thereof. Tiongko. Losain. Colodan and Kabamakawan are parts and parcel of another municipality. This brought about a change in the boundaries of the two provinces. declared that the statute “should be implemented unless declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. language of such precision as to mirror. Second. of the nature. the new municipality of Dianaton.Tiongko. by resolution of September 20. In fact.
in the Province of Lanao del Sur“8 — projects the impression that solely the province of Lanao del Sur is affected by the creation of Dianaton.” read without subtlety or contortion. take appropriate action thereon. the following. the title did not reflect this fact. it kept the public in the dark as to what towns and provinces were actually affected by the bill. is bad. For there. the title of the Act (Republic Act 4695) reads: “An Act Creating the Provinces of Benguet. a province different from Lanao del Sur. Salas. either in referring to or indicating one subject where another or different one is really embraced in the act. as controlling here. and the subject need not be stated in express terms where it is clearly inferable from the details set forth. We there ruled that this pretense is devoid of . Transfer of a sizeable portion of territory from one province to another of necessity involves reduction of area. In determining sufficiency of particular title its substance rather than its form should be considered. we take a hard look at the disputed statute. The phrase “in the Province of Lanao del Sur. and the purpose of the constitutional requirement. and Kalinga-Apayao. should be kept in mind by the court. deceptive.law and its operation. Respondent asks us to read Felwa vs. and. This is as important as the creation of a municipality.” This posture — we must say — but emphasizes the error of constitutional dimensions in writing down the title of the bill. 1966. a title which is so uncertain that the average person reading it would not be informed of the purpose of the enactment or put on inquiry as to its contents. thus. reference to the fact that portions in Cotabato are taken away “need not be expressed in the title of the law. population and income of the first and the corresponding increase of those of the other. And this. Mountain Province. the known fact is that the legislation has a two-pronged purpose combined in one statute: (1) it creates the municipality of Dianaton purportedly from twenty-one barrios in the towns of Butig and Balabagan. and. study and discuss the same. both in the province of Lanao del Sur. 8 thereof) in reference to the elective officials of the provinces thus created. October 29. The title — “An Act Creating the Municipality of Dianaton.7 With the foregoing principles at hand. Not the slightest intimation is there that communities in the adjacent province of Cotabato are incorporated in this new Lanao del Sur town. For. therefore. Ifugao. The baneful effect of the defective title here presented is not so difficult to perceive. prevent surprise or fraud upon the legislators. L-16511. or in omitting any expression or indication of the real subject or scope of the act. which technical accuracy is not essential. These are the pressures which heavily weigh against the constitutionality of Republic Act 4790.” That title was assailed as unconstitutional upon the averment that the provisions of the law (Section. makes the title misleading. were not set forth in the title of the bill. may be taken as guidelines: The test of the sufficiency of a title is whether or not it is misleading. and (2) it also dismembers two municipalities in Cotabato. And yet. 6 In our task of ascertaining whether or not the title of a statute conforms with the constitutional requirement. to lead them to inquire into the body of the bill. or which is misleading. Respondent’s stance is that the change in boundaries of the two provinces resulting in “the substantial diminution of territorial limits” of Cotabato province is “merely the incidental legal resu lts of the definition of the boundary” of the municipality of Dianaton and that. we believe. Such title did not inform the members of Congress as to the full impact of the law. The Felwa case is not in focus. it did not apprise the people in the towns of Buldon and Parang in Cotabato and in the province of Cotabato itself that part of their territory is being taken away from their towns and province and added to the adjacent Province of Lanao del Sur. of giving notice to all persons interested.
and the same is hereby constituted a village corporate. supra: “The title is erroneous in the worst degree. Article IV of the Michigan State Constitution. inducements. including taxing his lands. 200 NW 262. by the name of the Village of Fruitport. 39 A. 228 Mich. The reasoning advocated is that the limited title of the Act still covers those barrios actually in the province of Lanao del Sur. for it is misleading. Suggestion was made that Republic Act 4790 may still be salvaged with reference to the nine barrios in the municipalities of Butig and Balabagan in Lanao del Sur. As we canvass the authorities on this point. which legislative purpose is not expressed in the title. Under the guise of discarding surplusage. .” The statute. to wit: . Schmalz vs. But when the parts of the statute are so mutually dependent and connected. in the County of Muskegon. for that reason. 649. as conditions. that where a portion of a statute is rendered unconstitutional and the remainder valid. as to warrant a belief that the legislature intended them as a . The following. our attention is drawn to Hume vs. The title here is restrictive. Eq. .” The Circuit Court decree voided the statute and defendant appealed. in its section 1 reads: “The people of the state of Michigan enact. Woody. 2.” This statute was challenged as void by plaintiff. It restricts the operation of the act of Muskegon county.”10 We rule that Republic Act 4790 is null and void. but we do not agree with appellant that the words last quoted may. said in Hume. however. be disregarded as surplusage. A change of boundaries of the two provinces may be made without necessarily creating a new municipality and vice versa. the statute in controversy bears the title “An Act to Incorporate the Village of Fruitport. or compensations for each other. As was said in Schmalz vs. . A purpose of the provision of the Constitution is to “challenge the attention of those affected by the act to its provisions. Village of Fruitport. a court cannot reject a part of the title of an act for the purpose of saving the act. be. that the following described territory in the counties of Muskegon and Ottawa Michigan. . . which reads: “No law shall embrace more than one object. and that the words. The statute now before us stands altogether on a different footing. 649. Plaintiff based his claim on Section 20. an Act creating said provinces must be expected to provide for the officers who shall run the affairs thereof” — which is “manifestly germane to the subject” of the legislation. 219 NW 648. “An act to incorporate the village of Fruitport. gives the exception to this rule. . 56 N. and the constitutional portion upheld. may well apply to this case: It may be that words. .”9 Similar statutes aimed at changing boundaries of political subdivisions. considerations. The act goes beyond the restriction. surely.” would have been a sufficient title. The Supreme Court of Michigan voted to uphold the decree of nullity. however.” Savings Bank vs. which shall be expressed in its title. Black. the parts will be separated. 539. The lumping together of barrios in adjacent but separate provinces under one statute is neither a natural nor logical consequence of the creation of the new municipality of Dianaton. We are not unmindful of the rule.merit “for. with the mere nullification of the portion thereof which took away the twelve barrios in the municipalities of Buldon and Parang in the other province of Cotabato. buttressed on reason and of long standing. 316. thus: . as set forth in its title. in an action to restraint the Village from exercising jurisdiction and control. were likewise declared unconstitutional. There.J. State of Michigan. a resident of Ottawa county. Wooly. “in the county of Muskegon” were unnecessary.
And yet. as repugnant to the Organic Law. thus: Could the observations as to progressive community. Cotabato were to be excluded therefrom? The answer must be in the negative. conditional.13 Consequently. It was apparently these same factors which induced the writing out of House Bill 1247 creating the town of Dianaton. the same exception is recognized in the jurisprudence of this Court. Amongst these are population. if some parts are unconstitutional. is plainly evident by the fact that the bill itself. large aggregate population. thus: The general rule is that where part of a statute is void. The language used in the invalid part of the statute can have no legal force or efficacy for any purpose whatever. Speaking of the original twenty-one barrios which comprise the new municipality. . . And then the reduced area poses a number of questions. and valid statute. They act as an agency of the community in the administration of local affairs. which is a barrio in the municipality of Buldon in Cotabato. all the provisions which are thus dependent. When the foregoing bill was presented in Congress. reads: The territory is now a progressive community. Firstly. which carries out the legislative intent. and that if all could not be carried into effect. then.whole. while another part is valid. and other corporate obligations? This Court may not supply the answer to any of these disturbing questions. to remain deaf to these problems. . Secondly. the aggregate population is large. or to answer them in the negative . since the court has no power to legislate. . now Republic Act 4790. what with the consequent duties and liabilities of an independent municipal corporation? Could they stand on their own feet with the income to be derived in their community? How about the peace and order. Enough must remain to make a complete. . still apply to a motley group of only nine barrios out of the twentyone? Is it fair to assume that the inhabitants of the said remaining barrios would have agreed that they be formed into a municipality. collective income sufficient to maintain an independent municipality. thereafter enacted into law. intelligible. the valid portion if separable from the invalid.11 In substantially similar language. if enacted into law. the explanatory note to House Bill 1247. Municipal corporations perform twin functions. states that the seat of the government is in Togaig. They serve as an instrumentality of the State in carrying out the functions of government. unquestionably. to create the restricted area of nine barrios in the towns of Butig and Balabagan in Lanao del Sur into the town of Dianaton. . That this is so. territory. may stand and be enforced. sanitation. and income. the totality of the twenty-one barrios — not nine barrios — was in the mind of the proponent thereof. several factors come to the fore in the consideration of whether a group of barrios is capable of maintaining itself as an independent municipality. if the twelve barrios in the towns of Buldon and Parang. or connected. and what remains must express the legislative will independently of the void part. and the collective income is sufficient to maintain an independent municipality. by the Act. the valid portion must be so far independent of the invalid portion that it is fair to presume that the Legislature would have enacted it by itself if they had supposed that they could not constitutionally enact the other . . This bill. . It is in the latter character that they are a separate entity acting for their own purposes and not a subdivision of the State. the legislature would not pass the residue independently. will enable the inhabitants concerned to govern themselves and enjoy the blessings of municipal autonomy.12 Could we indulge in the assumption that Congress still intended. must fall with them. But in order to do this. .
is to impute to Congress an undeclared will. With the known premise that Dianaton was created upon the basic considerations of progressive community. and it is accordingly null and void in its totality. large aggregate population and sufficient income. respondent’s pose is that petitioner is not the real party in interest. . to spell out that congressional will. To do so. is to pass the line which circumscribes the judiciary and tread on legislative premises. and continue to enjoy the rights and benefits he acquired therein. Capacity to sue. He may not want. we may not now say that Congress intended to create Dianaton with only nine — of the original twenty-one — barrios. The right of every citizen. with a seat of government still left to be conjectured. he may become a suitor to challenge the constitutionality of the Act as passed by Congress. Paying due respect to the traditional separation of powers. this unduly stretches judicial interpretation of congressional intent beyond credibility point. Really.and still cling to the rule on separability. For. where he is residing has been transferred to a different provincial hegemony. Stated differently. indeed.14 3. we may not now melt and recast Republic Act 4790 to read a Dianaton town of nine instead of the originally intended twenty-one barrios.15 Petitioner is a qualified voter. he may prefer to remain in the place where he is and as it was constituted. Since by constitutional direction the purpose of a bill must be shown in its title for the benefit. Here the validity of a statute is challenged on the ground that it violates the constitutional requirement that the subject of the bill be expressed in its title. taxpayer and voter of a community affected by legislation creating a town to ascertain that the law so created is not dismembering his place of residence “in accordance with the Constitution” is recognized in this jurisdiction. His right to vote in his own barrio before it was annexed to a new town is affected. For the reasons given. if these nine barrios are to constitute a town at all. namely. hinges on whether petitioner’s substantial rights or interests are impaired by lack of notification in the title that the barrio in Parang. not of this Court. Cotabato. as is the case here. of the community affected thereby. and to prohibit respondent Commission from implementing the same for electoral purposes. he may feel that his vote should be cast for the officials in the town before dismemberment. therefore. Republic Act 4790 is thus indivisible. we are afraid. it is the function of Congress. we vote to declare Republic Act 4790 null and void. amongst others. he may express a lack of desire to vote for anyone of them.16 it stands to reason to say that when the constitutional right to vote on the part of any citizen of that community is affected. to vote in a town different from his actual residence. There remains for consideration the issue raised by respondent. He may not even know the candidates of the new town. He expects to vote in the 1967 elections. that petitioner has no substantial legal interest adversely affected by the implementation of Republic Act 4790. He may not desire to be considered a part of hitherto different communities which are fanned into the new town.
" . 353 creating the municipal district of San Andres. of the municipal council of San Narciso.Municipality of San Narciso vs Mendez On 20 August 1959. 8 of 24 May 1959. reading thusly: Sec. in its Resolution No. Executive Order No. pursuant to the then Sections 68 and 2630 of the Revised Administrative Code. considering the petition to be one for quo warranto. the officials of the Municipality or Municipal District of San Andres had no right to exercise the duties and functions of their respective offices that rightfully belonged to the corresponding officials of the Municipality of San Narciso. In their answer. 7160. 4864 was approved by the House of Representatives. 353 was issued upon the request. that since it was at the instance of petitioner municipality that the Municipality of San Andres was given life with the issuance of Executive Order No. that prerogative being reserved to the State acting through the Solicitor General. 353.x x x. By virtue of Executive Order No. the barrios of San Andres. after the parties had submitted their respective pre-trial briefs. Requisites for Creation. Alibijaban. Branch 62. . by segregating from the municipality of San Narciso of the same province. the petitioning municipality contended that Executive Order No. the municipal district of San Andres was later officially recognized to have gained the status of a fifth class municipality beginning 01 July 1963 by operation of Section 2 of Republic Act No. by way of affirmative and special defenses. Existing municipal districts organized pursuant to presidential issuances or executive orders and which have their respective set of elective municipal officials holding office at the time of the effectivity of this Code shall henceforth be considered as regular municipalities. 442. issued by President Diosdado Macapagal. 1515. petitioner municipality was not the proper party to bring the action. and that. Camflora and Tala along with their respective sitios. On 18 July 1991. 353 and prayed that the respondent local officials of the Municipality of San Andres be permanently ordered to refrain from performing the duties and functions of their respective offices. 2014-G. otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991. On 27 November 1991. Garcia. "(d) Municipalities existing as of the date of the effectivity of this Code shall continue to exist and operate as such. issued. Quezon. Quezon. Mangero. addressed to the President and coursed through the Provincial Board of Quezon. Executive Order No. 174. that because the Municipality of San Andres had been in existence since 1959. averring. petitioner municipality argued. it (petitioner municipality) should be deemed estopped from questioning the creation of the new municipality. President Carlos P. Invoking the ruling of this Court in Pelaez v. Quezon. 353. the trial court resolved to defer action on the motion to dismiss and to deny a judgment on the pleadings. respondents asked for the dismissal of the petition. the Municipality of San Andres filed anew a motion to dismiss alleging that the case had become moot and academic with the enactment of Republic Act No. The executive order added that "(t)he conversion of this municipal district into (a) municipality as proposed in House Bill No. which took effect on 01 January 1991. a presidential act. the Municipality of San Narciso filed a petition for quo warranto with the Regional Trial Court. Docketed Special Civil Action No. against the officials of the Municipality of San Andres. was a clear usurpation of the inherent powers of the legislature and in violation of the constitutional principle of separation of powers. as amended. in Gumaca. dated 05 October 1965. Hence. Pansoy. its corporate personality could no longer be assailed. Auditor General. the petition sought the declaration of nullity of Executive Order No." On 05 June 1989. The movant municipality cited Section 442(d) of the law.
" When the inquiry is focused on the legal existence of a body politic. dated 17 January 1992." Petitioners assert that the existence of a municipality created by a null and void presidential order may be attacked either directly or even collaterally by anyone whose interests or rights are affected. petitioner municipality had acquired a vested right to seek the nullification of Executive Order No. speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law available to petitioners to correct said Orders. however. Hence.The motion was opposed by petitioner municipality. In its Order of 02 December 1991. adding that "whatever defects (were) present in the creation of municipal districts by the President pursuant to presidential issuances and executive orders. It must be brought "in the name of the Republic of the Philippines" and commenced by the Solicitor General or the fiscal "when directed by the President of the Philippines x x x. the Municipal District. Executive Order No. and later the Municipality. that the municipality of San Narciso finally decided to challenge the legality of the executive order. a denunciation of the authority of the Municipality or Municipal District of San Andres to exist and to act in that capacity. 353 creating the municipal district of San Andres was issued on 20 August 1959 but it was only after almost thirty (30) years." Such officers may. At any rate. the same court denied petitioner municipality's motion for reconsideration. and that an unconstitutional act is not a law. 7160. Petitioners consider the instant petition to be one for "review on certiorari" under Rules 42 and 45 of the Rules of Court. the lower court has "acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or in excess of jurisdiction. under certain circumstances. however. then. 7160 may have converted the Municipality of San Andres into a de facto municipality. The special civil action of quo warranto is a "prerogative writ by which the Government can call upon any person to show by what warrant he holds a public office or exercises a public franchise. they question the orders of the lower court for having been issued with "grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or in excess of jurisdiction. (were) cured by the enactment of R. the action is reserved to the State in a proceeding for quo warranto or any other direct proceeding." Petitioners argue that in issuing the orders of 02 December 1991 and 17 January 1992. in the interest of resolving any further doubt on the legal status of the Municipality of San Andres. The Rules of Court also allows an individual to commence an action for quo warranto in his own name but this initiative can be done when he claims to be "entitled to a public office or position usurped or unlawfully held or exercised by another. at the same time. Petitioners' theory might perhaps be a point to consider had the case been seasonably brought. creates no office and is inoperative such as though it has never been passed. and that there is no other plain. the Court shall delve into the merits of the petition. contend that since the petition for quo warranto had been filed prior to the passage of said law." While the quo warranto proceedings filed below by petitioner municipality has so named only the officials of the Municipality of San Andres as respondents. contending that the above provision of law was inapplicable to the Municipality of San Andres since the enactment referred to legally existing municipalities and not to those whose mode of creation had been void ab initio. In . and any attempt to apply Section 442 of Republic Act 7160 to the petition would perforce be violative of due process and the equal protection clause of the Constitution." Evidently. otherwise known as Local Government Code of 1991. 353. We shall disregard the procedural incongruence. this petition "for review on certiorari. however. In the meantime. While petitioners would grant that the enactment of Republic Act No. to protect their rights and to secure a final and definitive interpretation of the legal issues involved. of San Andres.A. they. or on 05 June 1989. it is virtually. bring such an action "at the request and upon the relation of another person" with the permission of the court." In an order. the lower court finally dismissed the petition for lack of cause of action on what it felt was a matter that belonged to the State. the petitioners intend to submit their case in this instance under Rule 65. began and continued to exercise the powers and authority of a duly created local government unit.
would succeed. even if made. Under the Ordinance (adopted on 15 October 1986) apportioning the seats of the House of Representatives. certain governmental acts all pointed to the State's recognition of the continued existence of the Municipality of San Andres. subject to the usual qualification against impairment of vested rights. if not indeed with greatest imperativeness. 353. which in essence are retrospective. Public interest demands it. constituted as municipal circuits. otherwise known as the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980. Curative laws. the Municipality of San Andres has been considered to be one of the twelve (12) municipalities composing the Third District of the province of Quezon. appended to the 1987 Constitution. 353 was a complete nullity for being the result of an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power. Auditor General was promulgated. on 24 December 1965. Section 31 of Batas Pambansa Blg. and aimed at giving "validity to acts done that would have been invalid under existing laws. 33. 129. the peculiar circumstances obtaining in this case hardly could offer a choice other than to consider the Municipality of San Andres to have at least attained a status uniquely of its own closely approximating. Pelaez v.the same manner that the failure of a public officer to question his ouster or the right of another to hold a position within a one-year period can abrogate an action belatedly filed. Created in 1959 by virtue of Executive Order No." No pretension of unconstitutionality per se of Section 442(d) of the Local Government Code is proferred. in the establishment of Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in the country. 1515. 174 classified the Municipality of San Andres as a fifth class municipality after having surpassed the income requirement laid out in Republic Act No. Thus. issued by this Court pursuant to Presidential Decree No. dated 13 June 1978. Congress did just that when it has incorporated Section 442(d) in the Code. all doubts on the de jure standing of the municipality must be dispelled. the Municipality of San Andres had been covered by the 10th Municipal Circuit Court of San Francisco-San Andres for the province of Quezon. It is doubtful whether such a pretext. Costs against petitioners. so also. The ruling could have sounded the call for a similar declaration of the unconstitutionality of Executive Order No. Granting that Executive Order No. All considered. that of a de facto municipal corporation. The power to create political subdivisions is a function of the legislature. Under this administrative order. must a quo warranto proceeding assailing the lawful authority of a political subdivision be timely raised. the instant petition for certiorari is hereby DISMISSED. certain municipalities that comprised the municipal circuits organized under Administrative Order No." are validly accepted in this jurisdiction. WHEREFORE. the Municipality of San Andres had been in existence for more than six years when. Conventional wisdom cannot allow it to be otherwise. . as if existing laws have been complied with. At the present time. 537. Equally significant is Section 442(d) of the Local Government Code to the effect that municipal districts "organized pursuant to presidential issuances or executive orders and which have their respective sets of elective municipal officials holding office at the time of the effectivity of (the) Code shall henceforth be considered as regular municipalities. 353 but it was not to be the case. On the contrary. the de jure status of the Municipality of San Andres in the province of Quezon must now be conceded. Executive Order No. after more than five years as a municipal district. if not in fact attaining.
1 The signing of the MOA-AD between the GRP and the MILF was not to materialize. then President Joseph Estrada declared and carried out an "all-out-war" against the MILF.2 Early on.5 . On July 18. they signed the General Framework of Agreement of Intent on August 27. the commitment of the parties to pursue peace negotiations. of what Salamat perceived to be the manipulation of the MNLF away from an Islamic basis towards Marxist-Maoist orientations. Yet again. this Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order enjoining the GRP from signing the same. protect and respect human rights. on the ground. it splintered from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) then headed by Nur Misuari. through the Chairpersons of their respective peace negotiating panels. for upon motion of petitioners. The MILF thereafter suspended all its military actions.4 The parties met in Kuala Lumpur on March 24. according to a leading MILF member.Province of North Cotabato vs Gov’t of the Philippines Subject of these consolidated cases is the extent of the powers of the President in pursuing the peace process. the legal issue involved has a bearing on all areas in the country where there has been a long-standing armed conflict. Lanao del Norte. it was evident that there was not going to be any smooth sailing in the GRP-MILF peace process. The Solicitor General. FACTUAL ANTECEDENTS OF THE PETITIONS On August 5. lest its ruling unduly restricts the freedom of action vested by that same Constitution in the Chief Executive precisely to enable her to pursue the peace process effectively. however. it took control of the town hall of Kauswagan. 2008. the MILF attacked a number of municipalities in Central Mindanao and. among others. I. decided to meet with the GRP. who represents respondents. and refrain from the use of threat or force to attain undue advantage while the peace negotiations on the substantive agenda are on-going. the MILF convened its Central Committee to seriously discuss the matter and. the Court is tasked to perform a delicate balancing act. however. but it must do so in strict adherence to the Constitution. the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the MILF. negotiate with sincerity in the resolution and pacific settlement of the conflict. 2001. the GRP and MILF Peace Panels signed the Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities. in March 2000. initially responded with deep reservation. The MILF is a rebel group which was established in March 1984 when. eventually. specifically those who filed their cases before the scheduled signing of the MOA-AD.3 In response. when the GRP-MILF peace negotiations began. While the facts surrounding this controversy center on the armed conflict in Mindanao between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). summarizes the MOA-AD by stating that the same contained. The MILF. When President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed office. 1998. 1997. The following year. the parties signing on the same date the Agreement on the General Framework for the Resumption of Peace Talks Between the GRP and the MILF. The MOA-AD was preceded by a long process of negotiation and the concluding of several prior agreements between the two parties beginning in 1996. were scheduled to sign a Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001 in Kuala Lumpur. Towards the end of 1999 up to early 2000. with the talks being facilitated by the Malaysian government. but when President Arroyo asked the Government of Malaysia through Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad to help convince the MILF to return to the negotiating table. under the leadership of the late Salamat Hashim. Malaysia. the military offensive against the MILF was suspended and the government sought a resumption of the peace talks. among others. It must uncompromisingly delineate the bounds within which the President may lawfully exercise her discretion.
Cesar Jalosjos. Meanwhile. praying that respondents be enjoined from signing the MOA-AD or.R. STATEMENT OF THE PROCEEDINGS Before the Court is what is perhaps the most contentious "consensus" ever embodied in an instrument . Supplementarily. eventually leading to the crafting of the draft MOA-AD in its final form. On July 23. 183951 and 183962. Petitioners herein additionally implead Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita as respondent.13 The Court also required the Solicitor General to submit to the Court and petitioners the official copy of the final draft of the MOA-AD. Rep.R.19 docketed as G. as mentioned. if the same had already been signed. several exploratory talks were held between the parties in Kuala Lumpur. 2001 which ended with the signing of the Implementing Guidelines on the Security Aspect of the Tripoli Agreement 2001 leading to a ceasefire status between the parties. 2001. 2003 and he was replaced by Al Haj Murad. and Ancestral Domain Aspect. 2002 at Putrajaya. 183752.6 In 2005. Rep. Murad's position as chief peace negotiator was taken over by Mohagher Iqbal. which. 183893. Libya from June 20-22. The Province of Zamboanga del Norte.14 to which she complied. By Resolution of August 4. II. and to prohibit the slated signing of the MOA-AD. Jr. No. Rep. Rehabilitation Aspect. 183951. Petitioners herein moreover pray that the City of Zamboanga be excluded from the Bangsamoro Homeland and/or Bangsamoro Juridical Entity and. 2008.10 This initial petition was followed by another one. Mandamus and Prohibition. No. there were many incidence of violence between government forces and the MILF from 2002 to 2003.12 Mayor Celso Lobregat. They pray.15 Meanwhile. Nonetheless. . With regard to the Ancestral Domain Aspect. the parties in Tripoli Agreement 2001 simply agreed "that the same be discussed further by the Parties in their next meeting. Malaysia. then MILF Chairman Salamat Hashim passed away on July 13. petitioners pray that the MOA-AD be declared unconstitutional. in the alternative. Malaysia on August 5-7. docketed as G. and the members18 of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Zamboanga del Norte filed on August 15. No.17 Governor Rolando Yebes. docketed as G. that the MOAAD be declared null and void. that the MOA-AD be declared null and void and without operative effect. Ma. Erico Basilio Fabian who likewise pray for similar injunctive reliefs. the City of Iligan16 filed a petition for Injunction and/or Declaratory Relief.Formal peace talks between the parties were held in Tripoli. Vice-Governor Francis Olvis. and that the MOA-AD be declared unconstitutional. 183591. Cecilia Jalosjos-Carreon.the MOAAD which is assailed principally by the present petitions bearing docket numbers 183591. who was then the chief peace negotiator of the MILF. 183893.R. pending the disclosure of the contents of the MOAAD and the holding of a public consultation thereon. 2008." A second round of peace talks was held in Cyberjaya. the Province of North Cotabato8 and Vice-Governor Emmanuel Piñol filed a petition. docketed as G. inter alia. No. the outcome of which was the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace (Tripoli Agreement 2001) containing the basic principles and agenda on the following aspects of the negotiation: Security Aspect. which was signed on May 7. Isabelle Climaco and Rep. This was followed by the Implementing Guidelines on the Humanitarian Rehabilitation and Development Aspects of the Tripoli Agreement 2001.9 Invoking the right to information on matters of public concern. 2008. also for Mandamus and Prohibition11 filed by the City of Zamboanga. Commonly impleaded as respondents are the GRP Peace Panel on Ancestral Domain7 and the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (PAPP) Hermogenes Esperon. 2008 a petition for Certiorari. petitioners seek to compel respondents to disclose and furnish them the complete and official copies of the MOA-AD including its attachments. 183752. and that respondents be enjoined from executing the MOA-AD. the Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order commanding and directing public respondents and their agents to cease and desist from formally signing the MOA-AD.R. was set to be signed last August 5. for Mandamus and Prohibition with Prayer for the Issuance of Writ of Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order. from implementing the same.
3. 4. Roxas. Joselito Alisuag.On August 19. 7) under a state policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest (1987 Constitution. 5. praying for a judgment prohibiting and permanently enjoining respondents from formally signing and executing the MOA-AD and or any other agreement derived therefrom or similar thereto.23 Ruy Elias Lopez of Davao City and of the Bagobo tribe. Nesario Awat. territorial or political subdivision not recognized by law. Petitioners-in-Intervention include Senator Manuel A. Sec. whether prohibition under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is an appropriate remedy. Various parties moved to intervene and were granted leave of court to file their petitions-/comments-in-intervention. Adel Tamano. By subsequent Resolutions. c) to concede to or recognize the claim of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for ancestral domain in violation of Republic Act No. if it is considered that consultation has become fait accompli with the finalization of the draft. Whether respondent Government of the Republic of the Philippines Peace Panel committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it negotiated and initiated the MOA vis-à-vis ISSUES Nos. 7160 (LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF 1991)[. Whether there is a violation of the people's right to information on matters of public concern (1987 Constitution. both of Cotabato City.] If it is in the affirmative. Sec. Respondents filed Comments on the petitions. the Province of Sultan Kudarat22 and Gov. and (ii) insofar as the prohibition aspect involving the Local Government Units is concerned. in view of the disclosure of official copies of the final draft of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). (Muslaf) and the Muslim Multi-Sectoral Movement for Peace and Development (MMMPD) filed their respective Comments-in-Intervention. b) to revise or amend the Constitution and existing laws to conform to the MOA. In the succeeding exchange of pleadings. Gerardo Dilig. stated that the Executive Department shall thoroughly review the MOA-AD and pursue further negotiations to address the issues hurled against it. respondents' motion was met with vigorous opposition from petitioners. 22 and 29. and Aquilino Pimentel III filed a petition for Prohibition. No. Article III. former Senate President Franklin Drilon and Atty. Whether the petitions have become moot and academic (i) insofar as the mandamus aspect is concerned. 2008 that tackled the following principal issues: 1. 8371 (THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES RIGHTS ACT .R.20 docketed as G. 2008. Whether by signing the MOA. while some of petitioners submitted their respective Replies. all of Palawan City. Jejomar Binay. 183962. Whether the constitutionality and the legality of the MOA is ripe for adjudication. 28) including public consultation under Republic Act No. and nullifying the MOA-AD for being unconstitutional and illegal. The Muslim Legal Assistance Foundation. the Court ordered the consolidation of the petitions. the City of Isabela21 and Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar. Article II. by Manifestation and Motion of August 19. Petitioners herein additionally implead as respondent the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel represented by its Chairman Mohagher Iqbal. 2008. 4 and 5. The cases were heard on oral argument on August 15. 2. Ernesto Maceda. Inc. the Government of the Republic of the Philippines would be BINDING itself a) to create and recognize the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) as a separate state. Richalex Jagmis. the Municipality of Linamon in Lanao del Norte. or a juridical. Sangguniang Panlungsod member Marino Ridao and businessman Kisin Buxani. Respondents. and lawyers Carlo Gomez. and thus moved to dismiss the cases. Suharto Mangudadatu.
New terms were drawn up to describe novel ways of perceiving non-Muslim territories.OF 1997)." During the height of the Muslim Empire. maintained peaceful and cooperative relations with Muslim States. obligations. maintained freedom of religion for Muslims. The first referred to those lands where Islamic laws held sway.that partake of the nature of a treaty device. though under a secular regime.28 It thus appears that the "compact rights entrenchment" emanating from the regime of dar-ul-mua'hada and dar-ulsulh simply refers to all other agreements between the MILF and the Philippine government . 1996 during the administration of President Fidel Ramos. thereafter. having been bound to each other by treaty or agreement. signed on September 2. though not bound by treaty with Muslim States. 169 Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries in relation to the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples. Most of the parties submitted their memoranda on time.the organic act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)25 and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA). the MOA-AD includes not only four earlier agreements between the GRP and MILF. particularly Section 3(g) & Chapter VII (DELINEATION. referred to countries which. Under the heading "Terms of Reference" (TOR). whether the Executive Branch has the authority to so bind the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. Whether the inclusion/exclusion of the Province of North Cotabato.24 The Court. "treaty" being broadly defined as "any solemn agreement in writing that sets out understandings. among others. The MOA-AD also identifies as TOR two local statutes . The MOA-AD includes as a final TOR the generic category of "compact rights entrenchment emanating from the regime of dar-ul-mua'hada (or territory under compact) and dar-ul-sulh (or territory under peace agreement) that partakes the nature of a treaty device. and the Municipality of Linamon. and the UN Charter. Iligan and Isabela."29 . Lanao del Norte in/from the areas covered by the projected Bangsamoro Homeland is a justiciable question. even with distant States and inter-governmental organizations. on the other hand. areas like dar-ulmua'hada (land of compact) and dar-ul-sulh (land of treaty) referred to countries which. OVERVIEW OF THE MOA-AD As a necessary backdrop to the consideration of the objections raised in the subject five petitions and six petitionsin-intervention against the MOA-AD. As Muslim States entered into treaties with their neighbors. and benefits for both parties which provides for a framework that elaborates the principles declared in the [MOA-AD]. however.27 This way of viewing the world. III. but also two agreements between the GRP and the MNLF: the 1976 Tripoli Agreement. Whether desistance from signing the MOA derogates any prior valid commitments of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.] If in the affirmative. 6. early Muslim jurists tended to see the world through a simple dichotomy: there was the dar-ul-Islam (the Abode of Islam) and dar-ul-harb (the Abode of War). the Court takes an overview of the MOA. For instance. the classical division of the world into dar-ul-Islam and dar-ul-harb eventually lost its meaning.the ILO Convention No. Dar-ul-aman (land of order). while the second denoted those lands where Muslims were persecuted or where Muslim laws were outlawed or ineffective. as well as the two comments-in-intervention in favor of the MOA-AD. and the Final Peace Agreement on the Implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement. became more complex through the centuries as the Islamic world became part of the international community of nations.the Philippines being the land of compact and peace agreement .26 and several international law instruments . RECOGNITION OF ANCESTRAL DOMAINS)[. and 7. Cities of Zamboanga. The MOA-AD identifies the Parties to it as the GRP and the MILF. ordered the parties to submit their respective Memoranda.
by identifying the Bangsamoro people as "the First Nation" . the concept of "Bangsamoro.suggesting its exclusive entitlement to that designation departs from the Canadian usage of the term. and Marawi City. including the aerial domain and the atmospheric space above it." the ownership of which is vested exclusively in the Bangsamoro people by virtue of their prior rights of occupation. all of them are usually described collectively by the plural "First Nations. and Governance.34 The MOA-AD thus grounds the right to self-governance of the Bangsamoro people on the past suzerain authority of the sultanates. terrestrial. Each of these areas is to be subjected to a plebiscite to be held on different dates. Basilan.'" It defines "Bangsamoro people" as the natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and its adjacent islands including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization. years apart from each other.33 The Bangsamoro people are acknowledged as having the right to self-governance. the MOA-AD."36 To that extent. cities." The term "First Nation" is of Canadian origin referring to the indigenous peoples of that territory.31 but all indigenous peoples of Mindanao and its adjacent islands.37 B. Maguindanao.thus constituting the following areas: Lanao del Sur. What this freedom of choice consists in has not been specifically defined. Significantly.The MOA-AD states that the Parties "HAVE AGREED AND ACKNOWLEDGED AS FOLLOWS." as defined in this strand of the MOA-AD. Thus. including their spouses. The MOA-AD then mentions for the first time the "Bangsamoro Juridical Entity" (BJE) to which it grants the authority and jurisdiction over the Ancestral Domain and Ancestral Lands of the Bangsamoro. fluvial and alluvial domains." and starts with its main body. by the Pat a Pangampong ku Ranaw. The sultanates were described as states or "karajaan/kadatuan" resembling a body politic endowed with all the elements of a nation-state in the modern sense.35 The MOA-AD goes on to describe the Bangsamoro people as "the ‘First Nation' with defined territory and with a system of government having entered into treaties of amity and commerce with foreign nations. embracing the MindanaoSulu-Palawan geographic region. In Canada. As gathered.39 Outside of this core. the core of the BJE is defined as the present geographic area of the ARMM . particularly those known as Indians.30 Thus. this core also includes certain municipalities of Lanao del Norte that voted for inclusion in the ARMM in the 2001 plebiscite. none of whom was supreme over the others. the territory defined as the Bangsamoro homeland was ruled by several sultanates and. The MOA-AD adds that the freedom of choice of indigenous peoples shall be respected. municipalities and barangays. The MOA-AD proceeds to refer to the "Bangsamoro homeland. each of these indigenous peoples is equally entitled to be called "First Nation.38 More specifically.32 Both parties to the MOA-AD acknowledge that ancestral domain does not form part of the public domain. CONCEPTS AND PRINCIPLES This strand begins with the statement that it is "the birthright of all Moros and all Indigenous peoples of Mindanao to identify themselves and be accepted as ‘Bangsamoros. a confederation of independent principalities (pangampong) each ruled by datus and sultans. which right is said to be rooted on ancestral territoriality exercised originally under the suzerain authority of their sultanates and the Pat a Pangampong ku Ranaw. includes not only "Moros" as traditionally understood even by Muslims. TERRITORY The territory of the Bangsamoro homeland is described as the land mass as well as the maritime. Category A areas are to be subjected to a plebiscite not later . The main body of the MOA-AD is divided into four strands. which are grouped into two categories. Concepts and Principles. Tawi-Tawi. Territory. the BJE is to cover other provinces. Resources. specifically in the case of the Maranao. namely." hence. Category A and Category B. and their descendants whether mixed or of full blood. A. Sulu.
46 The external defense of the BJE is to remain the duty and obligation of the Central Government. or their marginalization shall be acknowledged." which shall stretch beyond the BJE internal waters up to the baselines of the Republic of the Philippines (RP) south east and south west of mainland Mindanao.45 There is no similar provision on the sharing of minerals and allowed activities with respect to the internal waters of the BJE. are to be subjected to a plebiscite twenty-five (25) years from the signing of a separate agreement . petroleum. producing.48 The sharing between the Central Government and the BJE of total production pertaining to natural resources is to be 75:25 in favor of the BJE. the jurisdiction and control thereon is to be vested in the BJE "as the party having control within its territorial jurisdiction. for a fixed period and under reasonable terms as may be agreed upon by both Parties. timber licenses. contracts or agreements.41 The Parties to the MOA-AD stipulate that the BJE shall have jurisdiction over all natural resources within its "internal waters. in favor of the latter. and other land tenure instruments granted by the Philippine Government. through production sharing and economic cooperation agreement. the BJE and the "Central Government" (used interchangeably with RP) shall exercise joint jurisdiction. customary land tenures. regulation of shipping and fishing activities." the Central Government may. RESOURCES The MOA-AD states that the BJE is free to enter into any economic cooperation and trade relations with foreign countries and shall have the option to establish trade missions in those countries. when public interest so requires. The BJE may also enter into environmental cooperation agreements. and that within these territorial waters. This compact is to embody the "details for the effective enforcement" and "the mechanisms and modalities for the actual implementation" of the MOA-AD." This right carries the proviso that.the Comprehensive Compact." The MOA-AD further provides for the sharing of minerals on the territorial waters between the Central Government and the BJE. and the enforcement of police and safety measures. fossil fuel. among which are the exploration and utilization of natural resources. and obtaining all potential sources of energy.50 The BJE may modify or cancel the forest concessions. mineral oil and natural gas.51 D.42 that the BJE shall also have "territorial waters. C." defined as extending fifteen (15) kilometers from the coastline of the BJE area. mining concessions. Industrial Forest Management Agreements (IFMA). Whenever restoration is no longer possible. reparation is to be in such form as mutually determined by the Parties. the jurisdiction over the internal waters is not similarly described as "joint.40 Category B areas. authority and management over all natural resources. also called "Special Intervention Areas.49 The MOA-AD provides that legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people arising from any unjust dispossession of their territorial and proprietary rights. The Central Government is also bound to "take necessary steps to ensure the BJE's participation in international meetings and events" like those of the ASEAN and the specialized agencies of the UN. are not to include aggression against the GRP. including those issued by the present ARMM. Such relationships and understandings.44 The activities which the Parties are allowed to conduct on the territorial waters are enumerated.47 With regard to the right of exploring for. GOVERNANCE The MOA-AD binds the Parties to invite a multinational third-party to observe and monitor the implementation of the Comprehensive Compact." on the other hand. assume or direct the operation of such resources. Mineral Production and Sharing Agreements (MPSA). however. The MOA-AD explicitly provides that the . The BJE is to be entitled to participate in Philippine official missions and delegations for the negotiation of border agreements or protocols for environmental protection and equitable sharing of incomes and revenues involving the bodies of water adjacent to or between the islands forming part of the ancestral domain.43 Notably. "in times of national emergency.than twelve (12) months following the signing of the MOA-AD.
legislative. electoral. Albert G. The BJE is granted the power to build. Secretary of Foreign Affairs of RP and Dato' Seri Utama Dr. Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Chairpersons of the Peace Negotiating Panels of the GRP and the MILF. all of whom were scheduled to sign the Agreement last August 5. develop and maintain its own institutions inclusive of civil service. And it states that the structure of governance is to be based on executive. The MOA-AD provides that its provisions requiring "amendments to the existing legal framework" shall take effect upon signing of the Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the aforesaid amendments. IV. PROCEDURAL ISSUES A.60 and the petitioner must allege the existence of an immediate or threatened injury to itself as a result of the challenged action. or mere academic questions.54 Courts decline to issue advisory opinions or to resolve hypothetical or feigned problems. and not merely of the negotiating panels.58 Related to the requirement of an actual case or controversy is the requirement of ripeness. There must be a contrariety of legal rights that can be interpreted and enforced on the basis of existing law and jurisprudence. Malaysia. the signature page of the MOA-AD states that it is "WITNESSED BY" Datuk Othman Bin Abd Razak. education. economic.56 An actual case or controversy involves a conflict of legal rights. judicial. RIPENESS The power of judicial review is limited to actual cases or controversies. the MOA-AD was set to be signed on August 5. respectively. susceptible of judicial resolution as distinguished from a hypothetical or abstract difference or dispute. the penultimate paragraph of the MOA-AD identifies the signatories as "the representatives of the Parties. Annexed to the MOA-AD are two documents containing the respective lists cum maps of the provinces. legislation. the details of which shall be discussed in the negotiation of the comprehensive compact." characterized by shared authority and responsibility. 2008. and SIGNED "IN THE PRESENCE OF" Dr.57 The Court can decide the constitutionality of an act or treaty only when a proper case between opposing parties is submitted for judicial determination. with due regard to the non-derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the Comprehensive Compact. As stated early on. Adviser to Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary General and Special Envoy for Peace Process in Southern Philippines. Minister of Foreign Affairs. financial and banking. 2008 by Rodolfo Garcia and Mohagher Iqbal.59 For a case to be considered ripe for adjudication. to assure that the courts will not intrude into areas committed to the other branches of government. legal. much of the present controversy hangs on the legality of this provision." meaning the GRP and MILF themselves.participation of the third party shall not in any way affect the status of the relationship between the Central Government and the BJE. Romulo. "ENDORSED BY" Ambassador Sayed Elmasry. police and internal security force. an assertion of opposite legal claims. municipalities. judicial system and correctional institutions. it is a prerequisite that something had then been accomplished or performed by either branch before a court may come into the picture.53 In addition. and administrative institutions with defined powers and functions in the Comprehensive Compact. and barangays under Categories A and B earlier mentioned in the discussion on the strand on TERRITORY.62 .52 The "associative" relationship between the Central Government and the BJE The MOA-AD describes the relationship of the Central Government and the BJE as "associative. A question is ripe for adjudication when the act being challenged has had a direct adverse effect on the individual challenging it. As will be discussed later. Notably.61 He must show that he has sustained or is immediately in danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of the act complained of. Rais Bin Yatim.55 The limitation of the power of judicial review to actual cases and controversies defines the role assigned to the judiciary in a tripartite allocation of power.
Toward this end. The Parties agree that mechanisms and modalities for the actual implementation of this MOA-AD shall be spelt out in the Comprehensive Compact to mutually take such steps to enable it to occur effectively. The Annex constitutes an integral part of this framework agreement. Jr. Toward this end. Concrete acts under the MOA-AD are not necessary to render the present controversy ripe. there are no concrete acts that could possibly violate petitioners' and intervenors' rights since the acts complained of are mere contemplated steps toward the formulation of a final peace agreement. Any provisions of the MOA-AD requiring amendments to the existing legal framework shall come into force upon the signing of a Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal framework with due regard to non-derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the Comprehensive Compact. the Government stipulates to conduct and deliver. a plebiscite covering the areas as enumerated in the list and depicted in the map as Category A attached herein (the "Annex"). is merely imaginary and illusory apart from being unfounded and based on mere conjectures. within twelve (12) months following the signing of the MOA-AD. xxxx GOVERNANCE xxxx 7. the Parties shall endeavor to complete the negotiations and resolve all outstanding issues on the Comprehensive Compact within fifteen (15) months from the signing of the MOA-AD. Plainly. if at all. petitioners and intervenors' perceived injury. (Underscoring supplied) The Solicitor General cites63 the following provisions of the MOA-AD: TERRITORY xxxx 2.65 this Court held: . it is respectfully submitted that this Honorable Court has no authority to pass upon issues based on hypothetical or feigned constitutional problems or interests with no concrete bases. using all possible legal measures. the MOA-AD remains to be a proposal that does not automatically create legally demandable rights and obligations until the list of operative acts required have been duly complied with. Aguirre.The Solicitor General argues that there is no justiciable controversy that is ripe for judicial review in the present petitions. Simply put. v. Considering the preliminary character of the MOA-AD. In Pimentel. the Parties enter into the following stipulations: xxxx d.64 (Underscoring supplied) The Solicitor General's arguments fail to persuade. x x x xxxx In the cases at bar. reasoning that The unsigned MOA-AD is simply a list of consensus points subject to further negotiations and legislative enactments as well as constitutional processes aimed at attaining a final peaceful agreement. Without derogating from the requirements of prior agreements.
it becomes not only the right but in fact the duty of the judiciary to settle the dispute. corporation. Furthermore. Such act constitutes another violation of its authority. board. acts of legislative and executive officials." implying an amendment of the Constitution to accommodate the MOA-AD. Certiorari and Prohibition are remedies granted by law when any tribunal.70 The present petitions pray for Certiorari.66 In Santa Fe Independent School District v. or is proceeding. without or in excess of its jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Again. is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution and the laws x x x settling the dispute becomes the duty and the responsibility of the courts. As the petitions allege acts or omissions on the part of respondent that exceed their authority. because the policy was being challenged as unconstitutional on its face. the petitions make a prima facie case for Certiorari.75 The said executive order requires that "[t]he government's policy framework for peace. even a singular violation of the Constitution and/or the law is enough to awaken judicial duty. 1996. the petitions allege that the provisions of the MOA-AD violate the Constitution.74 The authority of the GRP Negotiating Panel is defined by Executive Order No. 2001.71 Prohibition. or station. When an act of a branch of government is seriously alleged to have infringed the Constitution. in effect. No. who in our constitutional scheme is a coequal of Congress. guaranteed to the MILF the amendment of the Constitution. the dispute is said to have ripened into a judicial controversy even without any other overt act. when an act of the President. such omission. because the parties agreed that New York had to take immediate action to avoid the provision's consequences.O. by violating their duties under E. Prohibition.69 decided in 1992. trust. Indeed. United States. 3). the United States Supreme Court held that the action by the State of New York challenging the provisions of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act was ripe for adjudication even if the questioned provision was not to take effect until January 1.72 Mandamus is a remedy granted by law when any tribunal. in the case of prohibition.x x x [B]y the mere enactment of the questioned law or the approval of the challenged action. even if no public prayer had yet been led under the policy.73 Certiorari. 3 and the provisions of the Constitution and statutes. these points will be discussed in more detail later. For example. xxxx By the same token.67 the United States Supreme Court held that the challenge to the constitutionality of the school's policy allowing student-led prayers and speeches before games was ripe for adjudication.77 B. nor informing them of the proceedings. As will be discussed in greater detail later. when proper. board or officer has acted."76 The present petitions allege that respondents GRP Panel and PAPP Esperon drafted the terms of the MOA-AD without consulting the local government units or communities affected. 3 (E.O. officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office. LOCUS STANDI . including the systematic approach and the administrative structure for carrying out the comprehensive peace process x x x be governed by this Executive Order. and Mandamus. by itself. 3. in New York v.O. No. No. The MOA-AD provides that "any provisions of the MOA-AD requiring amendments to the existing legal framework shall come into force upon the signing of a Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal framework. issued on February 28. This stipulation. or unlawfully excludes another from the use or enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled. Doe.68 That the law or act in question is not yet effective does not negate ripeness. constitutes a departure by respondents from their mandate under E. and an actual case or controversy ripe for adjudication exists. in the case of certiorari. Mandamus and Prohibition are appropriate remedies to raise constitutional issues and to review and/or prohibit/nullify. and Mandamus.
given the liberal attitude it has exercised. A member of the House of Representatives has standing to maintain inviolate the prerogatives. No. In G. the Court grants them standing. In any case. one is allowed to sue where there is an assertion that public funds are illegally disbursed or deflected to an illegal purpose. one must allege "such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions.83 In the case of a legislator or member of Congress. or in the success of either of the parties. No. petitioners Province of North Cotabato (G.80 When the issue concerns a public right. No. No. has brushed aside technical rules of procedure. an act of the Executive that injures the institution of Congress causes a derivative but nonetheless substantial injury that can be questioned by legislators.R. Jejomar Binay and Aquilino Pimentel III would have no standing as citizens and taxpayers for their failure to specify that they would be denied some right or privilege or there would be wastage of public funds. .R. These petitioners allege that they did not vote for their inclusion in the ARMM which would be expanded to form the BJE territory.84 An organization may be granted standing to assert the rights of its members.R. and a resident of Cagayan de Oro. respectively. 183591) Province of Zamboanga del Norte (G. it is sufficient that the petitioner is a citizen and has an interest in the execution of the laws.91 In the petitions at bar. the person complaining must allege that he has been or is about to be denied some right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled or that he is about to be subjected to some burdens or penalties by reason of the statute or act complained of. Macapagal-Arroyo. 183951). however.87 Intervenors.89 where technicalities of procedure were brushed aside. and of the other LGUs.79 When suing as a citizen. Considering their invocation of the transcendental importance of the issues at hand. may be given legal standing upon showing of facts that satisfy the requirements of the law authorizing intervention. powers and privileges vested by the Constitution in his office. petitioners Ernesto Maceda. City of Iligan (G.R. are to be included in the intended domain of the BJE. or that there is a wastage of public funds through the enforcement of an invalid or unconstitutional law. No. 183962."78 Because constitutional cases are often public actions in which the relief sought is likely to affect other persons.86 As regards a local government unit (LGU).88 such as a legal interest in the matter in litigation. the Court has discretion to relax the procedural technicality on locus standi. is of no consequence. novelty and weight as precedents. an incumbent mayor of Makati City. City of Isabela and Municipality of Linamon have locus standi in view of the direct and substantial injury that they. the constitutional issues raised being of paramount public interest or of transcendental importance deserving the attention of the Court in view of their seriousness. would suffer as their territories.90 The Court's forbearing stance on locus standi on issues involving constitutional issues has for its purpose the protection of fundamental rights. highlighted in the case of David v.81 For a taxpayer.82 The Court retains discretion whether or not to allow a taxpayer's suit. the Court. as LGUs. whether in whole or in part. 183893) and City of Zamboanga (G. In not a few cases.For a party to have locus standi. it can seek relief in order to protect or vindicate an interest of its own. Petitioners' legal standing is thus beyond doubt. The fact that they are a former Senator.85 but the mere invocation by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or any member of the legal profession of the duty to preserve the rule of law does not suffice to clothe it with standing. a preliminary question frequently arises as to this interest in the constitutional question raised.R. meanwhile. 183752) and petitioners-in-intervention Province of Sultan Kudarat. in keeping with its duty under the Constitution to determine whether the other branches of government have kept themselves within the limits of the Constitution and the laws and have not abused the discretion given them.
the Court exercises its discretion to relax the procedural technicality on locus standi given the paramount public interest in the issues at hand. Thus. if it finds that (a) there is a grave violation of the Constitution.98 Another exclusionary circumstance that may be considered is where there is a voluntary cessation of the activity complained of by the defendant or doer.99 The present petitions fall squarely into these exceptions to thus thrust them into the domain of judicial review. not only in David. supervening events that would ordinarily have rendered the same moot notwithstanding.93 In David v. Gomez."92 In lending credence to this policy decision.97 and (d) the case is capable of repetition yet evading review. as the case may be. as members of the IBP Palawan chapter. Such legal interest suffices to clothe them with standing.96 (c) the constitutional issue raised requires formulation of controlling principles to guide the bench. Calderon101 where the Court similarly decided them on the merits. as taxpayer. a taxpayer and a member of the Bagobo tribe. but also in Province of Batangas v. assert that government funds would be expended for the conduct of an illegal and unconstitutional plebiscite to delineate the BJE territory. it will decide cases. Petitions not mooted Contrary then to the asseverations of respondents.. Intervening respondents Muslim Multi-Sectoral Movement for Peace and Development.] the government will not sign the MOA. Romulo100 and Manalo v. the bar. they can be given legal standing.94 this Court held that the "moot and academic" principle not being a magical formula that automatically dissuades courts in resolving a case. once a suit is filed and the doer voluntarily ceases the challenged conduct. MOOTNESS Respondents insist that the present petitions have been rendered moot with the satisfaction of all the reliefs prayed for by petitioners and the subsequent pronouncement of the Executive Secretary that "[n]o matter what the Supreme Court ultimately decides[. and the public. and Muslim Legal Assistance Foundation Inc. Just the same. they failed to allege any proper legal interest in the present petitions. or in the success or failure of either of the parties. . and prays for the denial of the petitions on the grounds therein stated.Intervenors Franklin Drilon and Adel Tamano. et al. it does not automatically deprive the tribunal of power to hear and determine the case and does not render the case moot especially when the plaintiff seeks damages or prays for injunctive relief against the possible recurrence of the violation. With regard to Senator Manuel Roxas. With respect to Intervenors Ruy Elias Lopez. in the resolution of the petitions concerning the MOA-AD. as taxpayer. as a former congressman of the 3rd district of Davao City. resident and member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cotabato City.. He thus possesses the requisite standing as an intervenor. in alleging their standing as taxpayers. citizens and taxpayers. and Kisin Buxani. otherwise moot and academic.95 (b) the situation is of exceptional character and paramount public interest is involved. B. a non-government organization of Muslim lawyers. allege that they stand to be benefited or prejudiced. the Solicitor General points out that the President had already disbanded the GRP Peace Panel. the non-signing of the MOA-AD and the eventual dissolution of the GRP Peace Panel did not moot the present petitions. It bears emphasis that the signing of the MOA-AD did not push through due to the Court's issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order. Carlo B. Their allegation that the issues involved in these petitions are of "undeniable transcendental importance" clothes them with added basis for their personality to intervene in these petitions. an advocacy group for justice and the attainment of peace and prosperity in Muslim Mindanao. as well as on a genuine legal interest in the matter in litigation. Marino Ridao. his standing is premised on his being a member of the Senate and a citizen to enforce compliance by respondents of the public's constitutional right to be informed of the MOA-AD. The grounds cited above in David are just as applicable in the present cases as they were. Macapagal-Arroyo. On that score alone.
.] the government will not sign the MOA[-AD]. Primarily. Respondents invite the Court's attention to the separate opinion of then Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban in Sanlakas v. 2008. the public and. therefore. Rehabilitation and Development Aspect in May 2002. even if the Executive Secretary. be discussed. but to other on-going and future negotiations and agreements necessary for its realization. Consequently. the government in negotiating with the MILF regarding Ancestral Domain. As the issues therein involved specific government procurement policies and standard principles on contracts. the majority opinion in Suplico found nothing exceptional therein. in the main. and the far-reaching Constitutional implications of these "consensus points." They contend that the Court must have jurisdiction over the subject matter for the doctrine to be invoked. While the Court notes the word of the Executive Secretary that the government "is committed to securing an agreement that is both constitutional and equitable because that is the only way that longlasting peace can be assured. the need to have it signed or initialed by all the parties concerned on August 5. been rendered moot and academic simply by the public disclosure of the MOA-AD. the public and. in Suplico. "provided the party raising it in a proper case has been and/or continue to be prejudiced or damaged as a direct result of their issuance. the factual circumstances being peculiar only to the transactions and parties involved in the controversy. The assertion that the MOA-AD is subject to further legal enactments including possible Constitutional amendments more than ever provides impetus for the Court to formulate controlling principles to guide the bench. Petitions are imbued with paramount public interest There is no gainsaying that the petitions are imbued with paramount public interest. the bar. the MOA-AD is a significant part of a series of agreements necessary to carry out the Tripoli Agreement 2001. The petitions have not. et al. the government and its negotiating entity. the MOA-AD cannot be considered a mere "list of consensus points. Reyes104 in which he stated that the doctrine of "capable of repetition yet evading review" can override mootness. which could contain similar or significantly drastic provisions." mootness will not set in in light of the terms of the Tripoli Agreement 2001. involving a significant part of the country's territory and the wide-ranging political modifications of affected LGUs.103 where the Court did not "pontificat[e] on issues which no longer legitimately constitute an actual case or controversy [as this] will do more harm than good to the nation as a whole. there is a commitment on the part of respondents to amend and effect necessary changes to the existing legal framework for certain provisions of the MOA-AD to take effect. in this case. The MOA-AD is part of a series of agreements In the present controversy." The present petitions must be differentiated from Suplico. what was assailed and eventually cancelled was a stand-alone government procurement contract for a national broadband network involving a onetime contractual relation between two parties-the government and a private foreign corporation.Contrary too to respondents' position. NEDA. The MOA-AD which dwells on the Ancestral Domain Aspect of said Tripoli Agreement is the third such component to be undertaken following the implementation of the Security Aspect in August 2001 and the Humanitarian. Need to formulate principles-guidelines Surely. most especially. the bar." especially given its nomenclature." it is minded to render a decision on the merits in the present petitions to formulate controlling principles to guide the bench. has stated that "no matter what the Supreme Court ultimately decides[. in his Memorandum of August 28.102 the manifestation that it will not be signed as well as the disbanding of the GRP Panel not withstanding. in another or in any form. 2008 to the Solicitor General. the present petitions are not confined to the terms and provisions of the MOA-AD. as what will. In fact. Accordingly." foremost of which is the creation of the BJE. the present MOA-AD can be renegotiated or another one will be drawn up to carry out the Ancestral Domain Aspect of the Tripoli Agreement 2001. Respondents cite Suplico v.
or decisions. the Court will treat it as one for Prohibition as it has far reaching implications and raises questions that need to be resolved. the flow inevitably ceases. or have procured for themselves. 2008. The right of access to public documents. the other relating to its provisions. and to documents. and papers pertaining to official acts. in Subido v. Judge Dimaano. the Court has jurisdiction over most if not the rest of the petitions. Zamboanga del Norte and Sultan Kudarat. Indeed. Iligan and Isabela. Access to official records. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. there are basically two SUBSTANTIVE issues to be resolved. as enshrined in both the 1973 Constitution and the 1987 Constitution. GRP) is a petition for Injunction and Declaratory Relief. V. Hon. has been recognized as a self-executory constitutional right. will again be subjected to the same problem in the future as respondents' actions are capable of repetition. and the Municipality of Linamon. the Cities of Zamboanga.105 At all events. access to information of general interest aids the people in democratic decision-making by giving them a better perspective of the vital issues confronting the nation112 so that they may be able to criticize and participate in the affairs of the . shall be afforded the citizen. copies of the MOAAD. in another or any form.108 the Court has recognized the statutory right to examine and inspect public records.The present petitions all contain prayers for Prohibition over which this Court exercises original jurisdiction.106 There is a reasonable expectation that petitioners.110 the Court ruled that access to public records is predicated on the right of the people to acquire information on matters of public concern since. transactions. subject to such limitations as may be provided by law. undoubtedly. As has been aptly observed: "Maintaining the flow of such information depends on protection for both its acquisition and its dissemination since. the present petitions afford a proper venue for the Court to again apply the doctrine immediately referred to as what it had done in a number of landmark cases. x x x The incorporation of this right in the Constitution is a recognition of the fundamental role of free exchange of information in a democracy. intervenors have been furnished. if either process is interrupted. in a democracy. Did respondents violate constitutional and statutory provisions on public consultation and the right to information when they negotiated and later initialed the MOA-AD? 2. provided this Court and petitioners with official copies of the final draft of the MOAAD and its annexes. particularly the Provinces of North Cotabato. as provided in Section 7.107 As early as 1948. viz: 1. a right which was eventually accorded constitutional status.R. 7. as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development." x x x111 In the same way that free discussion enables members of society to cope with the exigencies of their time. by Compliance of August 7. nor a meaningful democratic decision-making if they are denied access to information of general interest. It is with respect to the prayers for Mandamus that the petitions have become moot. SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES As culled from the Petitions and Petitions-in-Intervention. respondents having. While G. the pubic has a legitimate interest in matters of social and political significance. Information is needed to enable the members of society to cope with the exigencies of the times. Article III on the Bill of Rights: Sec. 183893 (City of Iligan v. There can be no realistic perception by the public of the nation's problems. one relating to the manner in which the MOA-AD was negotiated and finalized. No. Do the contents of the MOA-AD violate the Constitution and the laws? ON THE FIRST SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE Petitioners invoke their constitutional right to information on matters of public concern.109 In the 1976 case of Baldoza v. Ozaeta. Too.
becomes fait accompli. This negates the State policy of full transparency on matters of public concern. We can allow neither an emasculation of a constitutional right. effectively truncating a basic right enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Mr. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law. which directly affects the lives of the public at large. and if one is consummated.116 the need for adequate notice to the public of the various laws.113 The MOA-AD is a matter of public concern That the subject of the information sought in the present cases is a matter of public concern114 faces no serious challenge. the implementing law will have to be enacted by Congress. Presiding Officer.125 The policy of public disclosure establishes a concrete ethical principle for the conduct of public affairs in a genuinely open democracy. involving as it does the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the State. respondents admit that the MOA-AD is indeed of public concern. of course.115 In previous cases. Such a requirement will prevent the citizenry from participating in the public discussion of any proposed contract. The right to information guarantees the right of the people to demand information. OPLE. the records of the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission so disclose: MR. which may be grossly disadvantageous to the government or even illegal.128 . I expect it to influence the climate of public ethics immediately but.117 the civil service eligibility of a public employee. Requiring a consummated contract will keep the public in the dark until the contract.121 among others. a consummated contract is not a requirement for the exercise of the right to information.124 The policy of full public disclosure enunciated in above-quoted Section 28 complements the right of access to information on matters of public concern found in the Bill of Rights. this policy will not be enunciated or will not be in force and effect until after Congress shall have provided it. while Section 28 recognizes the duty of officialdom to give information even if nobody demands. Otherwise. the Court found that the regularity of real estate transactions entered in the Register of Deeds. In not distinguishing as to the executory nature or commercial character of agreements. the Court has categorically ruled: x x x [T]he right to information "contemplates inclusion of negotiations leading to the consummation of the transaction. It is a mandate of the State to be accountable by following such policy. It is by ensuring an unfettered and uninhibited exchange of ideas among a well-informed public that a government remains responsive to the changes desired by the people. with the people's right to know as the centerpiece.120 and the identity of party-list nominees. SUAREZ.126 These provisions are vital to the exercise of the freedom of expression and essential to hold public officials at all times accountable to the people. reasonable and effective manner. the MOA-AD subject of the present cases is of public concern.118 the proper management of GSIS funds allegedly used to grant loans to public officials. Undoubtedly."122 (Emphasis and italics in the original) Intended as a "splendid symmetry"123 to the right to information under the Bill of Rights is the policy of public disclosure under Section 28.government in a responsible. it may be too late for the public to expose its defects.127 Whether Section 28 is self-executory." Certainly. And since this is not self-executory. are matters of public concern. the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest. 28.119 the recovery of the Marcoses' alleged ill-gotten wealth. In fact. Matters of public concern covered by the right to information include steps and negotiations leading to the consummation of the contract. nor a retreat by the State of its avowed "policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest. MR. the people can never exercise the right if no contract is consummated. a situation which the framers of the Constitution could not have intended. Article II of the Constitution reading: Sec.
both ways. or if this is approved. I think through their elected representatives and that is how these courses take place. ROSARIO BRAID. Originally. ROSARIO BRAID.133 The preambulatory clause of E. we are not talking about public officials but also network of private business o[r] community-based organizations that will be reacting. xxxx MS.129 (Emphasis supplied) Indubitably. So I do not think we are afraid that there will be another OMA in the making. did I get the Gentleman correctly as having said that this is not a self-executing provision? It would require a legislation by Congress to implement? MR. As a matter of fact. Mr. after Commissioner Hilario Davide. which is inconsistent with this policy. as a species of the right to information.O. Yes. Yes. There is a message and a feedback. OPLE. DAVIDE. Respondents cannot thus point to the absence of an implementing legislation as an excuse in not effecting such policy. I would like to get some clarifications on this. it is absurd to say that the broader130 right to information on matters of public concern is already enforceable while the correlative duty of the State to disclose its transactions involving public interest is not enforceable until there is an enabling law. is enlightening. revoking this principle. MS. Presiding Officer. As Congress cannot revoke this principle. Jr. Since both provisions go hand-in-hand. Mr. No.. No. the effectivity of the policy of public disclosure need not await the passing of a statute. Mr. An essential element of these freedoms is to keep open a continuing dialogue or process of communication between the government and the people. 3. sought clarification on the issue." The complete and effective exercise of the right to information necessitates that its complementary provision on public disclosure derive the same self-executory nature. Yes.132 (Emphasis supplied) The imperative of a public consultation. Presiding Officer. Yes. will the people be able to participate? Will the government provide feedback mechanisms so that the people can participate and can react where the existing media facilities are not able to provide full feedback mechanisms to the government? I suppose this will be part of the government implementing operational mechanisms. DAVIDE.O. OPLE. Congress here may no longer pass a law revoking it. may I just make one last sentence? I think when we talk about the feedback network. it is merely directed to provide for "reasonable safeguards. It is in the interest of the State that the channels for free political discussion be maintained to the end that the government may perceive and be responsive to the people's will.The following discourse. And lastly. does it not mean that this will immediately take effect and Congress may provide for reasonable safeguards on the sole ground national interest? MR. but I accepted an amendment from Commissioner Regalado. MR. of course.131 Envisioned to be corollary to the twin rights to information and disclosure is the design for feedback mechanisms. so that the safeguards on national interest are modified by the clause "as may be provided by law" MR. Presiding Officer. is evident in the "marching orders" to respondents. The mechanics for the duty to disclose information and to conduct public consultation regarding the peace agenda and process is manifestly provided by E. But as worded. Presiding Officer. we will put more credence or credibility on the private network of volunteers and voluntary community-based organizations. Mr. MR. OPLE. I think so. it was going to be self-executing. . 3 declares that there is a need to further enhance the contribution of civil society to the comprehensive peace process by institutionalizing the people's participation. I said earlier that it should immediately influence the climate of the conduct of public affairs but.
comments. as well as for government[-]civil society dialogue and consensus-building on peace agenda and initiatives. 3 mandates the establishment of the NPF to be "the principal forum for the PAPP to consult with and seek advi[c]e from the peace advocates. contrary to respondents' retort in justifying the denial of petitioners' right to be consulted. nongovernmental and people's organizations. . . values and principles important to all Filipinos" and "shall be defined not by the government alone. information. AT ALL EVENTS. E.140 It illustrates a gross evasion of positive duty and a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined. The argument defies sound reason when contrasted with E. The furtive process by which the MOA-AD was designed and crafted runs contrary to and in excess of the legal authority."137 E. require the PAPP to conduct the consultation in a particular way or manner. arbitrary and despotic exercise thereof. 3 establishes petitioners' right to be consulted on the peace agenda. however. peace partners and concerned sectors of society on both national and local levels. The Court may not. It may.One of the three underlying principles of the comprehensive peace process is that it "should be community-based. The LGC chapter on intergovernmental relations puts flesh into this avowed policy: Prior Consultations Required. which includes "continuing consultations on both national and local levels to build consensus for a peace agenda and process. respondents effectively waived the defense of executive privilege in view of their unqualified disclosure of the official copies of the final draft of the MOA-AD.O. recommendations as well as to render appropriate and timely reports on the progress of the comprehensive peace process.O. comments and recommendations from the people through dialogue. No. nor by the different contending groups only. Petitioners' assertion that the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 declares it a State policy to "require all national agencies and offices to conduct periodic consultations with appropriate local government units. as a corollary to the constitutional right to information and disclosure. reflecting the sentiments.O.No project or program shall be implemented by government authorities unless the consultations mentioned in Sections 2 (c) and 26 hereof are complied with.O. and other concerned sectors of the community before any project or program is implemented in their respective jurisdictions"142 is well-taken."134 Included as a component of the comprehensive peace process is consensus-building and empowerment for peace. E.139 Petitioners are not claiming a seat at the negotiating table."135 Clearly. No."138 In fine. No. on the implementation of the comprehensive peace process. of course. capricious. and amounts to a whimsical. No. No. but by all Filipinos as one community. PAPP Esperon committed grave abuse of discretion The PAPP committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to carry out the pertinent consultation.O. No. By unconditionally complying with the Court's August 4.O. As for respondents' invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege. Such disregard of the express mandate of the President is not much different from superficial conduct toward token provisos that border on classic lip service. The executive order even recognizes the exercise of the public's right even before the GRP makes its official recommendations or before the government proffers its definite propositions. without a prayer for the document's disclosure in camera. and the mobilization and facilitation of people's participation in the peace process. contrary to respondents' position that plebiscite is "more than sufficient consultation.O. No. Respondents' stance manifests the manner by which they treat the salient provisions of E."136 Further. oppressive. 3 enumerates the functions and responsibilities of the PAPP. one of which is to "[c]onduct regular dialogues with the National Peace Forum (NPF) and other peace partners to seek relevant information. 2008 Resolution. 3 on people's participation. 3 contemplates not just the conduct of a plebiscite to effectuate "continuing" consultations. require him to comply with the law and discharge the functions within the authority granted by the President. 3's explicit provisions on continuing consultation and dialogue on both national and local levels.141 It bear emphasis that E. E. 3 seeks to elicit relevant advice. it is not tenable under the premises. or without a manifestation that it was complying therewith ex abundante ad cautelam.
the objections against the MOA-AD center on the extent of the powers conceded therein to the BJE. Paño. The relationship between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro juridical entity shall be associative characterized by shared authority and responsibility with a structure of . the Court shall pass upon how The MOA-AD is inconsistent with the Constitution and laws as presently worded.143 (Italics and underscoring supplied) In Lina. In general. which is cited as one of the TOR of the MOA-AD. namely. v. Respondents have admitted as much in the oral arguments before this Court. under the IPRA. The validity of this argument will be considered later. With respect to the indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs).and prior approval of the sanggunian concerned is obtained: Provided. there can be no question that they cannot all be accommodated under the present Constitution and laws. ours is an open society. however. Before assessing some of the specific powers that would have been vested in the BJE. Among the programs and projects covered are those that are critical to the environment and human ecology including those that may call for the eviction of a particular group of people residing in the locality where these will be implemented. even the heart of the MOA-AD is still subject to necessary changes to the legal framework. the IPRA does not grant the Executive Department or any government agency the power to delineate and recognize an ancestral domain claim by mere agreement or compromise.144 the Court held that the above-stated policy and above-quoted provision of the LGU apply only to national programs or projects which are to be implemented in a particular local community. Significantly. with all the acts of the government subject to public scrutiny and available always to public cognizance. The recognition of the ancestral domain is the raison d'etre of the MOA-AD. the international law concept of association. Indeed. the observance of the free and prior informed consent of the ICCs/IPs. Respondents. lives and destinies. among other things. the MOA-AD explicitly alludes to this concept. it would be useful to turn first to a general idea that serves as a unifying link to the different provisions of the MOA-AD. While paragraph 7 on Governance suspends the effectivity of all provisions requiring changes to the legal framework. as will be discussed in the following section. and even go beyond those of the present ARMM. and paragraph 4 on GOVERNANCE. Association is referred to in paragraph 3 on TERRITORY. That occupants in areas where such projects are to be implemented shall not be evicted unless appropriate relocation sites have been provided. nonetheless. whose interests are represented herein by petitioner Lopez and are adversely affected by the MOA-AD.145 The MOA-AD is one peculiar program that unequivocally and unilaterally vests ownership of a vast territory to the Bangsamoro people. in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. without complying with the IPRA. In proceeding to make a sweeping declaration on ancestral domain. respondents clearly transcended the boundaries of their authority. As it seems. 4.148 which entails. This has to be so if the country is to remain democratic. an instrument recognizing ancestral domain. Petitioners assert that the powers granted to the BJE exceed those granted to any local government under present laws. paragraph 11 on RESOURCES. counter that the MOA-AD is free of any legal infirmity because any provisions therein which are inconsistent with the present legal framework will not be effective until the necessary changes to that framework are made. such clause is itself invalid. without which all other stipulations or "consensus points" necessarily must fail. Notably. that the MOA-AD most clearly uses it to describe the envisioned relationship between the BJE and the Central Government.147 The MOA-AD. Jr. however. Hon.146 which could pervasively and drastically result to the diaspora or displacement of a great number of inhabitants from their total environment. indicating that the Parties actually framed its provisions with it in mind. with sovereignty residing in the people and all government authority emanating from them. the right to participate fully at all levels of decision-making in matters which may affect their rights. failed to justify its non-compliance with the clear-cut mechanisms ordained in said Act. For now.149 ON THE SECOND SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE With regard to the provisions of the MOA-AD. and the MOA-AD itself recognizes the need to amend the existing legal framework to render effective at least some of its provisions. the ICCs/IPs have. It is in the last mentioned provision.
Examples of states that have passed through the status of associated states as a transitional phase are Antigua. The U. Their international legal status as states was confirmed by the UN Security Council and by their admission to UN membership. given that there is a concept of "association" in international law. when conducting its foreign affairs. government on any foreign affairs matter affecting them. A period of transition shall be established in a comprehensive peace compact specifying the relationship between the Central Government and the BJE. postal. All have since become independent states. constitutional and international practice.S. dollar. resembles the right of the governments of FSM and the Marshall Islands to be consulted by the U. judicial and administrative institutions with defined powers and functions in the comprehensive compact. The Compact of Free Association is a treaty which is subordinate to the associated nation's national constitution. St. and cultural relations. . marine resources.-associated states to the UN in 1990.S. St.S. the UN recognized that the American model of free association is actually based on an underlying status of independence. civil aviation. the associate. the BJE's right to participate in Philippine official missions bearing on negotiation of border agreements. and each party may terminate the association consistent with the right of independence. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) The nature of the "associative" relationship may have been intended to be defined more precisely in the still to be forged Comprehensive Compact. Dominica. environmental protection. The currency in these countries is the U. it contains many provisions which are consistent with the international legal concept of association. the U. the principal.S. one state. government. The U.S. such capacity extending to matters such as the law of the sea.S. Nonetheless.151 are associated states of the U. According to their compacts of free association. and sharing of revenues pertaining to the bodies of water adjacent to or between the islands forming part of the ancestral domain. banking. Moreover. territory.S.S. with the admission of the U. and the continuing responsibility of the Central Government over external defense.152 In international practice. trade.153 Back to the MOA-AD.-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. that concept of association may be brought to bear in understanding the use of the term "associative" in the MOA-AD. Vincent and Grenada. the "associated state" arrangement has usually been used as a transitional device of former colonies on their way to full independence. formerly part of the U.by its inclusion of international law instruments in its TOR. is obligated to consult with the governments of the Marshall Islands or the FSM on matters which it (U. and the MOA-AD . Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla.placed itself in an international legal context.S. Lucia. indicating their very close ties with the U. government.governance based on executive. It bears noting that in U. Keitner and Reisman state that [a]n association is formed when two states of unequal power voluntarily establish durable links. moreover. the commitment of the Central Government to ensure the BJE's participation in meetings and events in the ASEAN and the specialized UN agencies. government) regards as relating to or affecting either government. It has been said that. specifically the following: the BJE's capacity to enter into economic and trade relations with foreign countries. legislative.S. x x x150 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) For purposes of illustration. delegates certain responsibilities to the other. In the basic model.S.S. government has the authority and obligation to defend them as if they were part of U. pursuant to a Compact of Free Association. the Marshall Islands and the FSM generally have the capacity to conduct foreign affairs in their own name and right. yet they issue their own travel documents. In the event of attacks or threats against the Marshall Islands or the FSM. which is a mark of their statehood. while maintaining its international status as a state. free association is understood as an international association between sovereigns.. the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Free associations represent a middle ground between integration and independence. St. has the option of establishing and using military areas and facilities within these associated states and has the right to bar the military personnel of any third country from having access to these territories for military purposes.
in contrast to the areas under Categories A and B mentioned earlier in the overview. There shall be created autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and in the Cordilleras consisting of provinces. Pantar. precisely because what these areas voted for then was their inclusion in the ARMM. is recognized under our laws as having an "associative" relationship with the national government. But even assuming that it is covered by the term "autonomous region" in the constitutional provision just quoted.154 namely. the concept implies powers that go beyond anything ever granted by the Constitution to any local or regional government. Even assuming arguendo that the MOA-AD would not necessarily sever any portion of Philippine territory. at any rate.These provisions of the MOA indicate. Tagoloan and Tangkal . municipalities. Indeed. however. or municipality. the BJE is more of a state than an autonomous region. a government. does not render another plebiscite unnecessary under the Constitution. economic and social structures. The territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines are the provinces. the present geographic area of the ARMM and. it is not surprising that many of the specific provisions of the MOA-AD on the formation and powers of the BJE are in conflict with the Constitution and the laws. cities. specifically the following provisions of Article X: SECTION 1. .are automatically part of the BJE without need of another plebiscite. The Constitution.which has betrayed itself by its use of the concept of association . SECTION 15. and a capacity to enter into relations with other states. already requires for its validity the amendment of constitutional provisions. and other relevant characteristics within the framework of this Constitution and the national sovereignty as well as territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines. not even the ARMM. does not contemplate any state in this jurisdiction other than the Philippine State. The defining concept underlying the relationship between the national government and the BJE being itself contrary to the present Constitution. It also implies the recognition of the associated entity as a state. a defined territory. There shall be autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras as hereinafter provided. cities. a status closely approximating it. Section 18 of the Constitution provides that "[t]he creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by a majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose.runs counter to the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic. city. Article X. Munai. provided that only provinces. Indeed. the municipalities of Lanao del Norte which voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite Baloi. cities. municipalities. BJE is a state in all but name as it meets the criteria of a state laid down in the Montevideo Convention. a permanent population. however. much less does it provide for a transitory status that aims to prepare any part of Philippine territory for independence. and geographical areas sharing common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage. The concept of association is not recognized under the present Constitution No province. Nunungan. and barangays. therefore. Under paragraph 2(c) on TERRITORY in relation to 2(d) and 2(e). and geographic areas voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the autonomous region. the spirit animating it ." (Emphasis supplied) As reflected above. among other things. that the Parties aimed to vest in the BJE the status of an associated state or. That the present components of the ARMM and the above-mentioned municipalities voted for inclusion therein in 2001. the status of its relationship with the national government being fundamentally different from that of the ARMM. Even the mere concept animating many of the MOA-AD's provisions. not the BJE. the MOA-AD would still be in conflict with it. in addition. The BJE is a far more powerful entity than the autonomous region recognized in the Constitution It is not merely an expanded version of the ARMM.
for instance. the President has the sole authority to negotiate with other states.The MOA-AD. (3) Ancestral domain and natural resources. It would not do. While there may be a semblance of unity because of the associative ties between the BJE and the national government. among which are R. the President acts as the country's mouthpiece with respect to international affairs. extend or withhold recognition. the organic act of autonomous regions shall provide for legislative powers over: (1) Administrative organization. (4) Personal. Section 22 of the Constitution must also be amended if the scheme envisioned in the MOA-AD is to be effected.157 . (7) Educational policies. and property relations. That constitutional provision states: "The State recognizes and promotes the rights of indigenous cultural communities within the framework of national unity and development. family. enter into treaties. Hence. itself. As the chief architect of foreign policy. In the realm of treaty-making. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Article II. and the IPRA. Besides being irreconcilable with the Constitution. (5) Regional urban and rural planning development. being the head of state. Within its territorial jurisdiction and subject to the provisions of this Constitution and national laws. moreover. the President is vested with the authority to deal with foreign states and governments. in international practice. maintain diplomatic relations. Section 20 of the Constitution since that provision defines the powers of autonomous regions as follows: SECTION 20. 9054156 or the Organic Act of the ARMM." Under our constitutional system. (2) Creation of sources of revenues. the MOA-AD is also inconsistent with prevailing statutory law. comply with other provisions of the Constitution. No. would not comply with Article X. the President. since any new law that might vest in the BJE the powers found in the MOA-AD must. has generally been a preparation for independence. Executive Secretary155 instructs: In our system of government. the act of placing a portion of Philippine territory in a status which. is certainly not conducive to national unity. to merely pass legislation vesting the BJE with treaty-making power in order to accommodate paragraph 4 of the strand on RESOURCES which states: "The BJE is free to enter into any economic cooperation and trade relations with foreign countries: provided. it is only the President who has that power. that such relationships and understandings do not include aggression against the Government of the Republic of the Philippines x x x. (6) Economic. (8) Preservation and development of the cultural heritage.A. and (9) Such other matters as may be authorized by law for the promotion of the general welfare of the people of the region. and otherwise transact the business of foreign relations. is regarded as the sole organ and authority in external relations and is the country's sole representative with foreign nations. Pimentel v. 9 of said constitutional provision would not suffice. The mere passage of new legislation pursuant to subparagraph No. social. (Underscoring supplied) Again on the premise that the BJE may be regarded as an autonomous region. and tourism development. the MOA-AD would require an amendment that would expand the above-quoted provision." (Underscoring supplied) An associative arrangement does not uphold national unity. however.
subject to the delimitations in the agreed Schedules. Paragraph 1 on Concepts and Principles states: 1. and (b) Bangsa Moro people. the atmospheric space above it. on the other hand. d) Proof Required. . and political institutions. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) This use of the term Bangsamoro sharply contrasts with that found in the Article X. These are citizens who are believers in Islam and who have retained some or all of their own social. by a majority of the members of the ICCs/IPs. Section 3 of the Organic Act of the ARMM is a bar to the adoption of the definition of "Bangsamoro people" used in the MOA-AD. These are citizens whose social. Spouses and their descendants are classified as Bangsamoro. shall be immediately undertaken by the Ancestral Domains Office upon filing of the application by the ICCs/IPs concerned. The freedom of choice of the Indigenous people shall be respected. clearly distinguishes between Bangsamoro people and Tribal peoples. and the aerial domain.The process of delineating a specific perimeter may be initiated by the NCIP with the consent of the ICC/IP concerned. 2) Written accounts of the ICCs/IPs political structure and institution. ." Chapter VIII of the IPRA. rather than lumping together the identities of the Bangsamoro and other indigenous peoples living in Mindanao. and other documents directly or indirectly attesting to the possession or occupation of the area since time immemorial by such ICCs/IPs in the concept of owners which shall be any one (1) of the following authentic documents: 1) Written accounts of the ICCs/IPs customs and traditions. as illustrated in the following provisions thereof: SECTION 52. It is the birthright of all Moros and all Indigenous peoples of Mindanao to identify themselves and be accepted as "Bangsamoros". c) Delineation Proper. cultural. the phrase "indigenous cultural community" refers to Filipino citizens residing in the autonomous region who are: (a) Tribal peoples. terrestrial. the Parties simply agree that. embracing the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan geographic region. . cultural and economic conditions distinguish them from other sectors of the national community. . By paragraph 1 of Territory.Article X. which. The Bangsamoro people refers to those who are natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and its adjacent islands including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization of its descendants whether mixed or of full blood. Delineation will be done in coordination with the community concerned and shall at all times include genuine involvement and participation by the members of the communities concerned. it lays down the prevailing procedure for the delineation and recognition of ancestral domains. "[t]he Bangsamoro homeland and historic territory refer to the land mass as well as the maritime.Proof of Ancestral Domain Claims shall include the testimony of elders or community under oath. .The identification and delineation of ancestral domains shall be done in accordance with the following procedures: xxxx b) Petition for Delineation. Section 3 of the Organic Act.The official delineation of ancestral domain boundaries including census of all community members therein. The MOA-AD's manner of delineating the ancestral domain of the Bangsamoro people is a clear departure from that procedure." Respecting the IPRA. Delineation Process. or through a Petition for Delineation filed with the NCIP. economic. as follows: "As used in this Organic Act. lays down a detailed procedure. fluvial and alluvial domains.
containing the grounds for denial.A complete copy of the preliminary census and a report of investigation. However. a discussion of not only the Constitution and domestic statutes. Section 2 of the Constitution states that the Philippines "adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land. and shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for two (2) consecutive weeks to allow other claimants to file opposition thereto within fifteen (15) days from date of such publication: Provided. if the proof is deemed insufficient. That in cases where there are conflicting claims among ICCs/IPs on the boundaries of ancestral domain claims.A copy of each document. the Ancestral Domains Office shall require the submission of additional evidence: Provided. That mere posting shall be deemed sufficient if both newspaper and radio station are not available. the Ancestral Domains Office shall cause the contending parties to meet and assist them in coming up with a preliminary resolution of the conflict." .3) Pictures showing long term occupation such as those of old improvements. complete with technical descriptions. copy furnished all concerned. ridges. 9) Pictures and descriptive histories of traditional landmarks such as mountains. sacred places and old villages. hills. but also of international law is in order. f) Report of Investigation and Other Documents. . A copy of the document shall also be posted at the local. the Ancestral Domains Office shall prepare a report to the NCIP endorsing a favorable action upon a claim that is deemed to have sufficient proof. for Article II. rivers. creeks. . g) Notice and Publication. the Ancestral Domains Office of the NCIP shall prepare a perimeter map. e) Preparation of Maps. the Ancestral Domains Office shall give the applicant due notice. xxxx To remove all doubts about the irreconcilability of the MOA-AD with the present legal system. provincial and regional offices of the NCIP. 4) Historical accounts.Within fifteen (15) days from publication. That the Ancestral Domains Office shall reject any claim that is deemed patently false or fraudulent after inspection and verification: Provided. without prejudice to its full adjudication according to the section below. furthermore.On the basis of such investigation and the findings of fact based thereon. further. including pacts and agreements concerning boundaries entered into by the ICCs/IPs concerned with other ICCs/IPs. terraces and the like. shall be prepared by the Ancestral Domains Office of the NCIP. h) Endorsement to NCIP. including a translation in the native language of the ICCs/IPs concerned shall be posted in a prominent place therein for at least fifteen (15) days. broadcasting in a radio station will be a valid substitute: Provided. That in case of rejection. That in areas where no such newspaper exists. 7) Genealogical surveys. 8) Pictures and descriptive histories of traditional communal forests and hunting grounds. 5) Survey plans and sketch maps. burial grounds. The denial shall be appealable to the NCIP: Provided. and of the inspection process. . and a description of the natural features and landmarks embraced therein. 6) Anthropological data. further. and 10) Write-ups of names and places derived from the native dialect of the community. .
the Court in Agustin v. where a people is under colonial rule.is blocked from the meaningful exercise of its right to internal self-determination. is subject to foreign domination or exploitation outside a colonial context. A distinction should be made between the right of internal and external self-determination. that all peoples. even then. Edu159 applied the aforesaid constitutional provision to the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals. under carefully defined circumstances.less definitely but asserted by a number of commentators ." The people's right to self-determination should not. The Court ultimately held that the population of Quebec had no right to secession." Among the conventions referred to are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights161 and the International Covenant on Economic. x x x x (Emphasis. social and cultural development within the framework of an existing state. in Article 1 of both covenants. by virtue of the right of self-determination. x x x External self-determination can be defined as in the following statement from the Declaration on Friendly Relations. Similarly. executive and judicial institutions within Canada. be understood as extending to a unilateral right of secession. citing that Quebec is equitably represented in legislative.Applying this provision of the Constitution. The various international documents that support the existence of a people's right to self-determination also contain parallel statements supportive of the conclusion that the exercise of such a right must be sufficiently limited to prevent threats to an existing state's territorial integrity or the stability of relations between sovereign states. nor is it being deprived of the freedom to make political choices and pursue economic. the free association or integration with an independent State or the emergence into any other political status freely determined by a people constitute modes of implementing the right of self-determination by that people. the Canadian Supreme Court in REFERENCE RE SECESSION OF QUEBEC160 had occasion to acknowledge that "the right of a people to self-determination is now so widely recognized in international conventions that the principle has acquired a status beyond ‘convention' and is considered a general principle of international law. In considering the question of whether the people of Quebec had a right to unilaterally secede from Canada. social. (Emphasis added) 127. namely.a people's pursuit of its political." understood not merely as the entire population of a State but also a portion thereof. italics and underscoring supplied) The Canadian Court went on to discuss the exceptional cases in which the right to external self-determination can arise.158 held that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is part of the law of the land on account of which it ordered the release on bail of a detained alien of Russian descent whose deportation order had not been executed even after two years. A right to external self-determination (which in this case potentially takes the form of the assertion of a right to unilateral secession) arises in only the most extreme of cases and. in Mejoff v. even occupying prominent positions therein. supra. Social and Cultural Rights162 which state. "freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic. Director of Prisons. The recognized sources of international law establish that the right to self-determination of a people is normally fulfilled through internal self-determination . . and . International law has long recognized the right to self-determination of "peoples. REFERENCE RE SECESSION OF QUEBEC is again instructive: "(ii) Scope of the Right to Self-determination 126. as The establishment of a sovereign and independent State. as the same is not under colonial rule or foreign domination. and cultural development. the Court. economic. social and cultural development. however. The international law principle of self-determination has evolved within a framework of respect for the territorial integrity of existing states.
A dispute between two States concerning such a question. is. histories. so abnormal that. the Philippines being included among those in favor. the conditions required for the formation of a sovereign State did not exist. thereby applying the exception rather than the rule elucidated above. this term has been used. Any other solution would amount to an infringement of sovereign rights of a State and would involve the risk of creating difficulties and a lack of stability which would not only be contrary to the very idea embodied in term "State. Positive International Law does not recognize the right of national groups. the right of disposing of national territory is essentially an attribute of the sovereignty of every State.163 There. In a historic development last September 13. The Committee. The armed camps and the police were divided into two opposing forces. The Committee stated the rule as follows: x x x [I]n the absence of express provisions in international treaties. bears upon a question which International Law leaves entirely to the domestic jurisdiction of one of the States concerned. If this right is not possessed by a large or small section of a nation. for a considerable time. 2007. namely. in scholarship as well as international. and state practices. and connections to land (spiritual and otherwise) that have been forcibly incorporated into a larger governing society. Its ground for departing from the general rule. however. Sweden presented to the Council of the League of Nations the question of whether the inhabitants of the Aaland Islands should be authorized to determine by plebiscite if the archipelago should remain under Finnish sovereignty or be incorporated in the kingdom of Sweden. be entirely left to the domestic jurisdiction of Finland. therefore. New Zealand. appointed an International Committee composed of three jurists to submit an opinion on the preliminary issue of whether the dispute should. to separate themselves from the State of which they form part by the simple expression of a wish. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) The Committee held that the dispute concerning the Aaland Islands did not refer to a question which is left by international law to the domestic jurisdiction of Finland. based on international law. encompassing the right to autonomy or self-government. The vote was 143 to 4. In the midst of revolution. during the relevant time period. Turning now to the more specific category of indigenous peoples. In light of these circumstances.165 but they do have rights amounting to what was discussed above as the right to internal self-determination. any more than it recognizes the right of other States to claim such a separation. the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN DRIP) through General Assembly Resolution 61/295. As with the broader category of "peoples. the grant or refusal of the right to a portion of its population of determining its own political fate by plebiscite or by some other method.The exceptional nature of the right of secession is further exemplified in the REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF JURISTS ON THE LEGAL ASPECTS OF THE AALAND ISLANDS QUESTION. found that Finland did not possess the right to withhold from a portion of its population the option to separate itself . The Declaration clearly recognized the right of indigenous peoples to selfdetermination. These groups are regarded as "indigenous" since they are the living descendants of pre-invasion inhabitants of lands now dominated by others." indigenous peoples situated within states do not have a general right to independence or secession from those states under international law. before resolving the question. nor by any other State. as such. was a very narrow one. and civil war. The Council. and it had. in fact. nations. and the four voting against being Australia. an attribute of the sovereignty of every State which is definitively constituted. or communities are culturally distinctive groups that find themselves engulfed by settler societies born of the forces of empire and conquest. indigenous peoples. Otherwise stated. under normal conditions therefore. the legitimacy of the Finnish national government was disputed by a large section of the people. Canada." but would also endanger the interests of the international community. exclusively. according to the Committee. anarchy. the Aaland Islands agitation originated at a time when Finland was undergoing drastic political transformation. to refer to groups with distinct cultures.164 Examples of groups who have been regarded as indigenous peoples are the Maori of New Zealand and the aboriginal peoples of Canada. to wit: Article 3 . been chased from the capital and forcibly prevented from carrying out its duties.S. regional. a "definitively constituted" sovereign state.a right which sovereign nations generally have with respect to their own populations. Generally speaking. Finland was not. neither can it be held by the State to which the national group wishes to be attached. The internal situation of Finland was. and the U.
(c) Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights. 2. legal. as used in international legal discourse pertaining to indigenous peoples. children and persons with disabilities. occupied or otherwise used or acquired. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic. special measures to ensure continuing improvement of their economic and social conditions. Self-government. territories and resources which they have traditionally owned. women. or of their cultural values or ethnic identities. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture. social and cultural institutions. Article 26 1. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of. housing. in the areas of education. in the political."166 The extent of self-determination provided for in the UN DRIP is more particularly defined in its subsequent articles. where appropriate. sanitation. economic. to the improvement of their economic and social conditions. including. without discrimination. Indigenous peoples have the right. have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs. Article 21 1. if they so choose. States shall take effective measures and. economic. in exercising their right to self-determination. territories or resources. as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions. employment. has been understood as equivalent to "internal self-determination. vocational training and retraining. Article 5 Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political. while retaining their right to participate fully. Article 4 Indigenous peoples. Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of indigenous elders. and redress for: (a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples. youth. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands. 2. social and cultural development. (b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands.Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. (e) Any form of propaganda designed to promote or incite racial or ethnic discrimination directed against them. inter alia. some of which are quoted hereunder: Article 8 1. . health and social security. (d) Any form of forced assimilation or integration. social and cultural life of the State.
for instance. If the protection of a right so essential to indigenous people's identity is acknowledged to be the responsibility of the State. observance and enforcement of treaties. Assuming that the UN DRIP. develop and control the lands. Military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples. and appropriate measures shall be taken to mitigate adverse environmental. agreements and other constructive arrangements. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair redress for any such activities. Article 38 States in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples. water or other resources.the obligations enumerated therein do not strictly require the Republic to grant the Bangsamoro people. utilization or exploitation of mineral. economic.2. Indeed. agreements and other constructive arrangements. Article 32 1. agreements and other constructive arrangements concluded with States or their successors and to have States honour and respect such treaties. territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use. There is. shall take the appropriate measures. like the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. unless justified by a relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed with or requested by the indigenous peoples concerned. Even the more specific provisions of the UN DRIP are general in scope. to achieve the ends of this Declaration. Such recognition shall be conducted with due respect to the customs. States shall undertake effective consultations with the indigenous peoples concerned. through appropriate procedures and in particular through their representative institutions. then surely the protection of rights less significant to them as such peoples would also be . Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition. through the instrumentality of the BJE. 3. allowing for flexibility in its application by the different States. 2. Article 30 1. 3. traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources. the particular rights and powers provided for in the MOA-AD.a question which the Court need not definitively resolve here . particularly in connection with the development. use. social. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as diminishing or eliminating the rights of indigenous peoples contained in treaties. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands. Article 37 1. must now be regarded as embodying customary international law . no requirement in the UN DRIP that States now guarantee indigenous peoples their own police and internal security force. 2. Article 8 presupposes that it is the State which will provide protection for indigenous peoples against acts like the forced dispossession of their lands . including legislative measures. 2. cultural or spiritual impact. Indigenous peoples have the right to own.a function that is normally performed by police officers. territories and resources. as well as those which they have otherwise acquired. prior to using their lands or territories for military activities.
Even if the UN DRIP were considered as part of the law of the land pursuant to Article II. territories and resources which they have traditionally owned. Respondents proffer. Moreover. dialogues. The authority of the GRP Peace Negotiating Panel to negotiate with the MILF is founded on E. occupied or otherwise used or acquired. a preparation for independence. the term "legal framework" is certainly broad enough to include the Constitution. which states that the "negotiations shall be conducted in accordance with x x x the principles of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines. All the rights recognized in that document are qualified in Article 46 as follows: 1.the duty of States. They cite paragraph 7 of the MOA-AD strand on GOVERNANCE quoted earlier. Section 5(c). 3. but which is reproduced below for convenience: 7. as discussed below. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State. however. totally or in part. people. or worse. the UN DRIP. therefore. is the right of indigenous peoples to the lands. Any provisions of the MOA-AD requiring amendments to the existing legal framework shall come into force upon signing of a Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal framework with due regard to non derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the Comprehensive Compact. precisely because it stipulates that the provisions thereof inconsistent with the laws shall not take effect until these laws are amended. in Article 26 thereof." (Emphasis supplied) Establishing an associative relationship between the BJE and the Central Government is. the MOA-AD is defective because the suspensive clause is invalid. and face-to-face discussions with rebel groups. however. respondents. by their mere act of incorporating in the MOA-AD the provisions thereof regarding the associative relationship between the BJE and the Central Government. . Even apart from the above-mentioned Memorandum. Indeed. have already violated the Memorandum of Instructions From The President dated March 1. What it upholds. however. an implicit acknowledgment of an independent status already prevailing. Section 2 of the Constitution." These negotiating panels are to report to the President. for the reasons already discussed. does not obligate States to grant indigenous peoples the near-independent status of an associated state. The Parties agree that the mechanisms and modalities for the actual implementation of this MOAAD shall be spelt out in the Comprehensive Compact to mutually take such steps to enable it to occur effectively. through the PAPP on the conduct and progress of the negotiations. while upholding the right of indigenous peoples to autonomy. the foregoing stipulation keeps many controversial provisions of the MOA-AD from coming into force until the necessary changes to the legal framework are effected. It is. 2001. Nor is there in the UN DRIP an acknowledgement of the right of indigenous peoples to the aerial domain and atmospheric space. Notwithstanding the suspensive clause. that the signing of the MOA-AD alone would not have entailed any violation of law or grave abuse of discretion on their part.O. it would not suffice to uphold the validity of the MOA-AD so as to render its compliance with other laws unnecessary. which states that there shall be established Government Peace Negotiating Panels for negotiations with different rebel groups to be "appointed by the President as her official emissaries to conduct negotiations. group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act contrary to the Charter of the United Nations or construed as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair. the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States. clear that the MOA-AD contains numerous provisions that cannot be reconciled with the Constitution and the laws as presently worded. No. While the word "Constitution" is not mentioned in the provision now under consideration or anywhere else in the MOA-AD.
therefore. The Court held thus: "In her ponencia in Marcos v. and political reforms which may require new legislation or even constitutional amendments. in exploring lasting solutions to the Moro Problem through its negotiations with the MILF. PURSUIT OF SOCIAL. No. Marcos. draws strength from her Commander-inChief powers. The President cannot delegate a power that she herself does not possess. may reasonably be perceived as an attempt of respondents to address. The E. and must therefore be pursued simultaneously in a coordinated and integrated fashion.O. but may not be limited to. The Six Paths to Peace. 3 only to those options available under the laws as they presently stand.167 states: SECTION 4. particularly those relating to the commander-in-chief clause.O. programs and projects aimed at addressing the root causes of internal armed conflicts and social unrest. was not restricted by E. x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) . No. The inquiry on the legality of the "suspensive clause. There. ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL REFORMS. 125. In Sanlakas v. which E.It bears noting that the GRP Peace Panel. which reiterates Section 3(a). or should the reforms be restricted only to those solutions which the present laws allow? The answer to this question requires a discussion of the extent of the President's power to conduct peace negotiations. economic.O. reforms. Hence. Justice Cortes put her thesis into jurisprudence. the root causes of the armed conflict in Mindanao.O." so to speak. Thus. Manglapus. in the course of peace negotiations." however. 3 collectively refers to as the "Paths to Peace. No. the following: a. The rationale for the majority's ruling rested on the President's . authorized them to "think outside the box. however. the President's authority to declare a state of rebellion springs in the main from her powers as chief executive and. Sec. 3. new legislation or even constitutional amendments. 4(a) of E. No.O. but not a diminution of the general grant of executive power. pursuant to this provision of E. of E. This is so. because it must be asked whether the President herself may exercise the power delegated to the GRP Peace Panel under E. The powers of the President are not limited to what are expressly enumerated in the article on the Executive Department and in scattered provisions of the Constitution.The components of the comprehensive peace process comprise the processes known as the "Paths to Peace". This component involves the vigorous implementation of various policies. This may require administrative action. and political reforms which cannot." is the pursuit of social. at the same time. agree to pursue reforms that would require new legislation and constitutional amendments.O. No.an authority which is not expressly provided for in the Constitution. They shall include. they negotiated and were set on signing the MOA-AD that included various social. 4(a). x x x x (Emphasis supplied) The MOA-AD. . 3. cannot stop here. . May the President. the Court. 3. all be accommodated within the present legal framework. and which thus would require new legislation and constitutional amendments. . That the authority of the President to conduct peace negotiations with rebel groups is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution does not mean that she has no such authority.168 in issue was the authority of the President to declare a state of rebellion . economic. No. Executive Secretary. unstated residual powers which are implied from the grant of executive power and which are necessary for her to comply with her duties under the Constitution. One of the components of a comprehensive peace process. upheld the President's power to forbid the return of her exiled predecessor. by a slim 8-7 margin. notwithstanding the avowed intent of the members of the Constitutional Commission of 1986 to limit the powers of the President as a reaction to the abuses under the regime of Mr. for the result was a limitation of specific powers of the President.O. Sec. These component processes are interrelated and not mutually exclusive.
There are other speakers. a substantial proportion of transitions have resulted in weak or limited democracies. although I have some more questions. in her article on the nature and legal status of peace agreements. in the course of peace negotiations. peace is rarely attained by simply pursuing a military solution. it is working very well. Behind the provisions of the Constitution on autonomous regions172 is the framers' intention to implement a particular peace agreement. the link between peace agreements and constitution-making has been recognized by no less than the framers of the Constitution. The observations of Dr. Nonetheless. the Filipino people are still faced with the reality of an on-going conflict between the Government and the MILF. This is a good first step. I will reserve my right to ask them if they are not covered by the other speakers. and as Commander-in-Chief. if it is minded. Professor Christine Bell. conflict cessation without modification of the political environment. ROMULO. she has the more specific duty to prevent and suppress rebellion and lawless violence. I heard one of the Commissioners say that local autonomy already exists in the Muslim region. Kirsti Samuels are enlightening. is unlikely to succeed. if resolved. elections. but there is no question that this is merely a partial response to the Tripoli Agreement itself and to the fuller standard of regional autonomy contemplated in that agreement. namely. then she must be given the leeway to explore. observed that the typical way that peace agreements establish or confirm mechanisms for demilitarization and demobilization is by linking them to new constitutional structures addressing governance. which could then. As Chief Executive. been partly successful. act upon them . the President has the general responsibility to promote public peace. The constitution can be partly a peace agreement and partly a framework setting up the rules by which the new democracy will operate.or capacity-building. The President may not. however.173(Emphasis supplied) The constitutional provisions on autonomy and the statutes enacted pursuant to them have. even where state-building is undertaken through technical electoral assistance and institution.Similarly. of course. Commissioner Yusup Abubakar is right that certain definite steps have been taken to implement the provisions of the Tripoli Agreement with respect to an autonomous region in Mindanao. Constitution-making after conflict is an opportunity to create a common vision of the future of a state and a road map on how to get there. changes as far-reaching as a fundamental reconfiguration of the nation's constitutional structure is required. May I answer that on behalf of Chairman Nolledo. and now by state policy. I have only two questions. so. Being uniquely vested with the power to conduct peace negotiations with rebel groups. Moreover. may bring an end to hostilities. to the credit of their drafters. Barbero and then MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari. diminished a great deal of the problems. Oftentimes. So. it has. but she may not be prevented from submitting them as recommendations to Congress. the Tripoli Agreement of 1976 between the GRP and the MNLF. If the President is to be expected to find means for bringing this conflict to an end and to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao. MR. solutions that may require changes to the Constitution for their implementation. OPLE. to wit: x x x [T]he fact remains that a successful political and governance transition must form the core of any post-conflict peace-building mission. The design of a constitution and its constitution-making process can play an important role in the political and governance transition. more than 50 percent of states emerging from conflict return to conflict. As we have observed in Liberia and Haiti over the last ten years. the President is in a singular position to know the precise nature of their grievances which. why do we have to go into something new? MR. my question is: since that already exists. and legal and human rights institutions. in fact.171 In the Philippine experience. On average. signed by then Undersecretary of National Defense Carmelo Z. unilaterally implement the solutions that she considers viable. the President's power to conduct peace negotiations is implicitly included in her powers as Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief.170 In the same vein.169 As the experience of nations which have similarly gone through internal armed conflict will show.
Such presidential power does not. Against this ruling. as stated in her oath of office. however.178 only to preserve and defend the Constitution. however. This forewarns the Court to be wary of incantations of ‘people's voice' or ‘sovereign will' in the present initiative. and the constituent power has not been granted to but has been withheld from the President or Prime Minister. Justices Teehankee and Muñoz Palma vigorously dissented. Sections 1 and 3 of the Constitution. Congress would have the option. 2006-02. COMELEC:177 "The Lambino Group claims that their initiative is the ‘people's voice." It will be observed that the President has authority. is not with regard to the point on which it was then divided in that controversial case. In particular. While he disagreed that the President may directly submit proposed constitutional amendments to a referendum.174 in issue was the legality of then President Marcos' act of directly submitting proposals for constitutional amendments to a referendum. or submit to the electorate the question of calling such a convention.' However. to propose the recommended amendments or revision to the people. President Marcos. the Lambino Group unabashedly states in ULAP Resolution No. may amount to nothing more than the President's suggestions to the people. not as a formal proposal to be voted on in a plebiscite similar to what President Marcos did in Sanidad. bears noting."176 (Emphasis supplied) From the foregoing discussion. but she may not unilaterally implement them without the intervention of Congress. never convened the interim National Assembly. there being no interim National Assembly to propose constitutional amendments. As the Court stated in Lambino v. COMELEC.pursuant to the legal procedures for constitutional amendment and revision. it follows that the President's questioned decrees proposing and submitting constitutional amendments directly to the people (without the intervention of the interim National Assembly in whom the power is expressly vested) are devoid of constitutional and legal basis. that ‘ULAP maintains its unqualified support to the agenda of Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for constitutional reforms. or the people through initiative and referendum . holding that "the urges of absolute necessity" compelled the President as the agent of the people to act as he did. While the President does not possess constituent powers . Justice Teehankee's dissent. in the verification of their petition with the COMELEC. The Court's concern at present.may validly consider implementing even those policies that require changes to the Constitution. defines and delimits the powers of each and prescribes the manner of the exercise of such powers. however.in the course of conducting peace negotiations . a Constitutional Convention. These recommendations. under the present Constitution. or act in any way as if the assent of that body were assumed as a certainty. the people also have the power to directly propose amendments through initiative and referendum.she may submit proposals for constitutional change to Congress in a manner that does not involve the arrogation of constituent powers. pursuant to Article XVII.as those powers may be exercised only by Congress. but on that which was not disputed by either side. call a constitutional convention. for any further involvement in the process of initiative by the Chief Executive may vitiate its character as a genuine "people's initiative. Since.175 in particular. it will be recalled. The majority upheld the President's act." The only initiative recognized by the Constitution is that which truly proceeds from the people. Thus Justice Teehankee opined: "Since the Constitution provides for the organization of the essential departments of government. extend to allowing her to change the Constitution. the principle may be inferred that the President . In Sanidad v. bypassing the interim National Assembly which was the body vested by the 1973 Constitution with the power to propose such amendments. implicit in his opinion is a recognition that he would have upheld the President's action along with the majority had the President convened the interim National Assembly and coursed his proposals through it. As long as she limits herself to recommending these .' The Lambino Group thus admits that their ‘people's' initiative is an ‘unqualified support to the agenda' of the incumbent President to change the Constitution. but for their independent consideration of whether these recommendations merit being formally proposed through initiative. the President may also submit her recommendations to the people. but simply to recommend proposed amendments or revision.
nor even be submitted to a plebiscite.A. Paragraph 7 on Governance of the MOA-AD states. 6734.is a proposal for new legislation coming from the President. To that extent. It is not a question of whether the necessary changes to the legal framework will be effected. the parties to the 1996 Agreement stipulated that it would be implemented in two phases. it must be struck down as unconstitutional.defined in civil law as a future and uncertain event . a crucial difference between the two agreements. While the MOA-AD virtually guarantees that the "necessary changes to the legal framework" will be put in place. Plainly. The foregoing discussion focused on the President's authority to propose constitutional amendments. the deadline for effecting the contemplated changes to the legal framework. It has been an accepted practice for Presidents in this jurisdiction to propose new legislation. the MOA-AD itself would be counted among the "prior agreements" from which there could be no derogation.which changes would include constitutional amendments. What remains for discussion in the Comprehensive Compact would merely be the implementing details for these "consensus points" and." Pursuant to this stipulation. such as the Special Zone of Peace and Development (SZOPAD) and the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD). that all provisions thereof which cannot be reconciled with the present Constitution and laws "shall come into force upon signing of a Comprehensive Compact and upon effecting the necessary changes to the legal framework." . it is mandatory for the GRP to effect the changes to the legal framework contemplated in the MOA-AD . It bears noting that. notably. however. stipulation-paragraph 7 on GOVERNANCE is inconsistent with the limits of the President's authority to propose constitutional amendments. There is. therefore. while Phase II covered the establishment of the new regional autonomous government through amendment or repeal of R. Phase I covered a three-year transitional period involving the putting up of new administrative structures through Executive Order. but when. A comparison between the "suspensive clause" of the MOA-AD with a similar provision appearing in the 1996 final peace agreement between the MNLF and the GRP is most instructive. The stipulations on Phase II consisted of specific agreements on the structure of the expanded autonomous region envisioned by the parties. since her authority to propose new legislation is not in controversy. these provisions [on Phase II] shall be recommended by the GRP to Congress for incorporation in the amendatory or repealing law. That there is no uncertainty being contemplated is plain from what follows." This stipulation does not bear the marks of a suspensive condition . in whom constituent powers are vested. By the time these changes are put in place. Hence. for the paragraph goes on to state that the contemplated changes shall be "with due regard to non derogation of prior agreements and within the stipulated timeframe to be contained in the Comprehensive Compact. she cannot guarantee to any third party that the required amendments will eventually be put in place.179 The "suspensive clause" in the MOA-AD viewed in light of the above-discussed standards Given the limited nature of the President's authority to propose constitutional amendments. the GRP-MNLF final peace agreement states thus: "Accordingly.but of a term. The most she could do is submit these proposals as recommendations either to Congress or the people. her mere recommendation need not be construed as an unconstitutional act. which was then the Organic Act of the ARMM. it being a virtual guarantee that the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of the Philippines will certainly be adjusted to conform to all the "consensus points" found in the MOA-AD. No. as discussed earlier. however. One of the more prominent instances the practice is usually done is in the yearly State of the Nation Address of the President to Congress. which .for all intents and purposes . they are similar to the provisions of the MOA-AD. As a backdrop. Moreover. the annual general appropriations bill has always been based on the budget prepared by the President.changes and submits to the proper procedure for constitutional amendments and revision.
in the terms of Article XXXIV of the Agreement. a rebel group with which the Sierra Leone Government had been in armed conflict for around eight years at the time of signing. Hence. The Decision on Challenge to Jurisdiction: Lomé Accord Amnesty180 (the Lomé Accord case) of the Special Court of Sierra Leone is enlightening. the parties to the conflict are the lawful authority of the State and the RUF which has no status of statehood and is to all intents and purposes a faction within the state. The moral guarantors assumed no legal obligation. it is ineffective in depriving an international court like it of jurisdiction. presumably for avoidance of doubt. are not contracting parties and who do not claim any obligation from the contracting parties or incur any obligation from the settlement. 1999 between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). ruling that the Lome Accord is not a treaty and that it can only create binding obligations and rights between the parties in municipal law. citing. and the UN. or a unilateral declaration of the Philippine government to the international community that it would grant to the Bangsamoro people all the concessions therein stated. or persons or bodies under whose auspices the settlement took place but who are not at all parties to the conflict. 2002. The MOA-AD. the participation of foreign dignitaries and international organizations in the finalization of that agreement. as earlier mentioned in the overview thereof. Almost every conflict resolution will involve the parties to the conflict and the mediator or facilitator of the settlement. The Special Court. the Defence argued that the Accord created an internationally binding obligation not to prosecute the beneficiaries of the amnesty provided therein. In regard to the nature of a negotiated settlement of an internal armed conflict it is easy to assume and to argue with some degree of plausibility. however. an understanding of the extent of the agreement to be implemented as not including certain international crimes. Neither ground finds sufficient support in international law. In this case. "this peace agreement is implemented with integrity and in good faith by both parties". In addition. In the Lomé Accord case. Among the stipulations of the Lomé Accord was a provision for the full pardon of the members of the RUF with respect to anything done by them in pursuit of their objectives as members of that organization since the conflict began. xxxx 40. that the mere fact that in addition to the parties to the conflict. The Lomé Accord was a peace agreement signed on July 7. leads to the contrary conclusion. . These circumstances readily lead one to surmise that the MOA-AD would have had the status of a binding international agreement had it been signed. rejected this argument. An examination of the prevailing principles in international law. It is recalled that the UN by its representative appended.Concerns have been raised that the MOA-AD would have given rise to a binding international law obligation on the part of the Philippines to change its Constitution in conformity thereto. however. 41. the Economic Community of West African States. The sole purpose of the Special Court. not in international law. the Special Court held. The non-contracting signatories of the Lomé Agreement were moral guarantors of the principle that. an international court. would have included foreign dignitaries as signatories. 1996. On January 16. after a successful negotiation between the UN Secretary-General and the Sierra Leone Government. another agreement was entered into by the UN and that Government whereby the Special Court of Sierra Leone was established. means the agreement of the parties is internationalized so as to create obligations in international law. among other things. among which were the Government of the Togolese Republic. on the ground that it may be considered either as a binding agreement under international law. There were non-contracting signatories to the agreement. the document formalizing the settlement is signed by foreign heads of state or their representatives and representatives of international organizations. "37. as Defence counsel for the defendants seem to have done. however. was to try persons who bore the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since November 30. representatives of other nations were invited to witness its signing in Kuala Lumpur.
In another vein. Of course. A peace agreement which settles an internal armed conflict cannot be ascribed the same status as one which settles an international armed conflict which. A breach of the terms of such a peace agreement resulting in resumption of internal armed conflict or creating a threat to peace in the determination of the Security Council may indicate a reversal of the factual situation of peace to be visited with possible legal consequences arising from the new situation of conflict created. the ICJ held. The Lomé Agreement created neither rights nor obligations capable of being regulated by international law.181 also known as the Nuclear Tests Case. but a State may choose to take up a certain position in relation to a particular matter with the intention of being bound-the intention is to be ascertained by interpretation of the act. That. must be between two or more warring States. with the result that it would have to amend its Constitution accordingly regardless of the true will of the people. In these circumstances. An undertaking of this kind. will not convert it to an international agreement which creates an obligation enforceable in international. a restrictive interpretation is called for. is binding. may have the effect of creating legal obligations. persuaded the ICJ to dismiss the case. that intention confers on the declaration the character of a legal undertaking. not all unilateral acts imply obligation. as distinguished from municipal. 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. concerning legal or factual situations. law. that it would comply with all the stipulations stated therein. is required for the declaration to take effect. that its 1974 series of atmospheric tests would be its last. amounted to a legal undertaking addressed to the international community. which required no acceptance from other States for it to become effective. An agreement such as the Lomé Agreement which brings to an end an internal armed conflict no doubt creates a factual situation of restoration of peace that the international community acting through the Security Council may take note of. xxxx . binding under international law. but public statements from its President.182 Those statements. Australia challenged before the ICJ the legality of France's nuclear tests in the South Pacific. When it is the intention of the State making the declaration that it should become bound according to its terms. and with an intent to be bound.42. Declarations of this kind may be. Such consequences such as action by the Security Council pursuant to Chapter VII arise from the situation and not from the agreement. Such action cannot be regarded as a remedy for the breach. 44. that the MOA-AD would have been signed by representatives of States and international organizations not parties to the Agreement would not have sufficed to vest in it a binding character under international law. nothing in the nature of a quid pro quo nor any subsequent acceptance of the declaration. however. and similar statements from other French officials including its Minister of Defence. France. nor even any reply or reaction from other States. if given publicly. It is well recognized that declarations made by way of unilateral acts. viz: 43. nor from the obligation imposed by it. In the Nuclear Tests Case. x x x" (Emphasis. The Lomé Agreement cannot be characterised as an international instrument. When States make statements by which their freedom of action is to be limited. France refused to appear in the case. Essential to the ICJ ruling is its finding that the French government intended to be bound to the international community in issuing its public statements. Cited as authority for this view is Australia v. italics and underscoring supplied) Similarly. essentially. and often are. concern has been raised that the MOA-AD would amount to a unilateral declaration of the Philippine State. very specific. decided by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). even though not made within the context of international negotiations. the State being thenceforth legally required to follow a course of conduct consistent with the declaration. An international agreement in the nature of a treaty must create rights and obligations regulated by international law so that a breach of its terms will be a breach determined under international law which will also provide principle means of enforcement.
including the Applicant.183 also known as the Case Concerning the Frontier Dispute. that the legal implications of the unilateral act must be deduced. they participated merely as witnesses or. unilateral declarations arise only in peculiar circumstances. para.J. Unlike in the Nuclear Tests Case. The limited applicability of the Nuclear Tests Case ruling was recognized in a later case decided by the ICJ entitled Burkina Faso v. Here. in the negotiation and projected signing of the MOA-AD. and the confidence and trust which are so essential in the relations among States. and the Court holds that they constitute an undertaking possessing legal effect.51. public statements of a state representative may be construed as a unilateral declaration only when the following conditions are present: the statements were clearly addressed to the international community. one way or another. its intention effectively to terminate these tests‘ (I. the Chamber finds that there are no grounds to interpret the declaration made by Mali's head of State on 11 April 1975 as a unilateral act with legal implications in regard to the present case. Mali.C. p. the state intended to be bound to that community by its statements. The objects of these statements are clear and they were addressed to the international community as a whole. x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) As gathered from the above-quoted ruling of the ICJ. the mere fact that in addition to the parties to the conflict. account must be taken of all the factual circumstances in which the act occurred. and from the circumstances attending their making. including the Applicant. that Mali would abide by the decision to be issued by a commission of the Organization of African Unity on a frontier dispute then pending between Mali and Burkina Faso. gave an undertaking to the international community to which his words were addressed. While there were States and international organizations involved. It was bound to assume that other States might take note of these statements and rely on their being effective. Since no agreement of this kind was concluded between the Parties. Plainly. para. p. the peace settlement is signed by representatives of states and international organizations does not mean that the agreement is internationalized so as to create obligations in international law. 51. The Philippine panel did not draft the same with the clear intention of being bound thereby to the international community as a whole or to any State. and that not to give legal effect to those statements would be detrimental to the security of international intercourse. in the case of Malaysia. that Government's unilateral declarations had ‘conveyed to the world at large. It is difficult to see how it could have accepted the terms of a negotiated solution with each of the applicants without thereby jeopardizing its contention that its conduct was lawful. as facilitator. It clarified that its ruling in the Nuclear Tests case rested on the peculiar circumstances surrounding the French declaration subject thereof. . In the particular circumstances of those cases. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Assessing the MOA-AD in light of the above criteria. Reports 1974. For example. 474. The public declaration subject of that case was a statement made by the President of Mali. In order to assess the intentions of the author of a unilateral act. the French Government conveyed to the world at large. but only to the MILF. in the Nuclear Tests cases. The validity of these statements and their legal consequences must be considered within the general framework of the security of international intercourse. It is from the actual substance of these statements. 53). In announcing that the 1974 series of atmospheric tests would be the last. the ICJ held that the statement of Mali's President was not a unilateral act with legal implications. 269. it would not have amounted to a unilateral declaration on the part of the Philippine State to the international community. in an interview by a foreign press agency. to wit: 40. As held in the Lomé Accord case. The Court considers *270 that the President of the Republic. its intention effectively to terminate these tests. the Court took the view that since the applicant States were not the only ones concerned at the possible continuance of atmospheric testing by the French Government. there was nothing to hinder the Parties from manifesting an intention to accept the binding character of the conclusions of the Organization of African Unity Mediation Commission by the normal method: a formal agreement on the basis of reciprocity. in deciding upon the effective cessation of atmospheric tests. the French Government could not express an intention to be bound otherwise than by unilateral declarations. The circumstances of the present case are radically different.
the bar. had it really been its intention to be bound to other States. The failure of respondents to consult the local government units or communities affected constitutes a departure by respondents from their mandate under E. In one important respect. that formal agreement would have come about by the inclusion in the MOA-AD of a clear commitment to be legally bound to the international community. As the petitions involve constitutional issues which are of paramount public interest or of transcendental importance. or the people themselves through the process of initiative. Upholding such an act would amount to authorizing a usurpation of the constituent powers vested only in Congress. there was also nothing to hinder the Philippine panel. not just the MILF. by itself. for the only way that the Executive can ensure the outcome of the amendment process is through an undue influence or interference with that process. the MOA-AD may not be considered a unilateral declaration under international law. The Court. sufficient to constitute grave abuse of discretion. Article III of the Constitution is in splendid symmetry with the state policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest under Sec. as a solution to the Moro Problem. 7. No. so long as the change is not inconsistent with what. in international law. the Mali President's statement was not held to be a binding unilateral declaration by the ICJ. (b) the exceptional character of the situation and paramount public interest. 3. a Constitutional Convention. The MOA-AD is a significant part of a series of agreements necessary to carry out the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace signed by the government and the MILF back in June 2001. which was one of the difficulties that prevented the French Government from entering into a formal agreement with other countries. for it can change the Constitution in any it wants. go to the extent of giving up a portion of its own territory to the Moros for the sake of peace. The grave abuse lies not in the fact that they considered. respondents' almost consummated act of guaranteeing amendments to the legal framework is. petitioners-in-intervention and intervening respondents the requisite locus standi in keeping with the liberal stance adopted in David v. respondents exceeded their authority by the mere act of guaranteeing amendments to the Constitution. The people's right to information on matters of public concern under Sec. Here. (c) the need to formulate controlling principles to guide the bench. finds that the prayers for mandamus have been rendered moot in view of the respondents' action in providing the Court and the petitioners with the official copy of the final draft of the MOA-AD and its annexes. The . 28. Article II of the Constitution. and by an equally clear indication that the signatures of the participating states-representatives would constitute an acceptance of that commitment. if it so desired.Since the commitments in the MOA-AD were not addressed to States. Entering into such a formal agreement would not have resulted in a loss of face for the Philippine government before the international community. On that ground. the present MOA-AD can be renegotiated or another one drawn up that could contain similar or significantly dissimilar provisions compared to the original. As in that case. the creation of a state within a state. to manifest that intention by formal agreement. The MOA-AD not being a document that can bind the Philippines under international law notwithstanding. The sovereign people may. however. but in their brazen willingness to guarantee that Congress and the sovereign Filipino people would give their imprimatur to their solution. however. the Court grants the petitioners. Any alleged violation of the Constitution by any branch of government is a proper matter for judicial review. the circumstances surrounding the MOA-AD are closer to that of Burkina Faso wherein.184 Respondents. The right to information guarantees the right of the people to demand information. Contrary to the assertion of respondents that the non-signing of the MOA-AD and the eventual dissolution of the GRP Peace Panel mooted the present petitions. SUMMARY The petitions are ripe for adjudication. as already discussed. while Section 28 recognizes the duty of officialdom to give information even if nobody demands. and the public. is known as Jus Cogens. not to give legal effect to such commitments would not be detrimental to the security of international intercourse . Macapagal-Arroyo. and (d) the fact that the case is capable of repetition yet evading review.O. may not preempt it in that decision. That the Philippine panel did not enter into such a formal agreement suggests that it had no intention to be bound to the international community. the Court finds that the present petitions provide an exception to the "moot and academic" principle in view of (a) the grave violation of the Constitution involved. Hence.to the trust and confidence essential in the relations among States. Moreover.
the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to carry out the pertinent consultation process. the observance of the free and prior informed consent of the Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples. itself. The right to public consultation was envisioned to be a species of these public rights. is implemented therein. which entails. which could pervasively and drastically result to the diaspora or displacement of a great number of inhabitants from their total environment. It illustrates a gross evasion of positive duty and a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined. are unconstitutional. namely. An essential element of these twin freedoms is to keep a continuing dialogue or process of communication between the government and the people. subject only to reasonable safeguards or limitations as may be provided by law. The various explicit legal provisions fly in the face of executive secrecy.complete and effective exercise of the right to information necessitates that its complementary provision on public disclosure derive the same self-executory nature. Upholding such an act would amount to authorizing a usurpation of the constituent powers vested only in Congress. The MOA-AD cannot be reconciled with the present Constitution and laws. No. for judicial compliance and public scrutiny. and recommendations from peace partners and concerned sectors of society. advice. and amounts to a whimsical. Moreover. In fact. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 provides for clear-cut procedure for the recognition and delineation of ancestral domain. Republic Act No. The MOA-AD is one peculiar program that unequivocally and unilaterally vests ownership of a vast territory to the Bangsamoro people. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 requires all national offices to conduct consultations before any project or program critical to the environment and human ecology including those that may call for the eviction of a particular group of people residing in such locality.O. the same does not cure its defect. Three.O. Republic Act No. 3 itself is replete with mechanics for continuing consultations on both national and local levels and for a principal forum for consensus-building. Neither the GRP Peace Panel nor the President herself is authorized to make such a guarantee. it virtually guarantees that the necessary amendments to the Constitution and the laws will eventually be put in place. While there is a clause in the MOA-AD stating that the provisions thereof inconsistent with the present legal framework will not be effective until that framework is amended. Not only its specific provisions but the very concept underlying them. as mandated by E. 2001. The inclusion of provisions in the MOA-AD establishing an associative relationship between the BJE and the Central Government is. a violation of the Memorandum of Instructions From The President dated March 1. In any event. In declaring that the right to information contemplates steps and negotiations leading to the consummation of the contract. 3. The invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege as a defense to the general right to information or the specific right to consultation is untenable. In sum. 8371. for the concept presupposes that the associated entity is a state and implies that the same is on its way to independence. 7160. oppressive. capricious. a Constitutional Convention. it is the duty of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to conduct regular dialogues to seek relevant information. as the clause is worded. The contents of the MOA-AD is a matter of paramount public concern involving public interest in the highest order. The furtive process by which the MOA-AD was designed and crafted runs contrary to and in excess of the legal authority. arbitrary and despotic exercise thereof. the associative relationship envisioned between the GRP and the BJE. Republic Act No. the statute does not grant the Executive Department or any government agency the power to delineate and recognize an ancestral domain claim by mere agreement or compromise. or the people themselves through the . Two. At least three pertinent laws animate these constitutional imperatives and justify the exercise of the people's right to be consulted on relevant matters relating to the peace agenda. respondents effectively waived such defense after it unconditionally disclosed the official copies of the final draft of the MOA-AD. addressed to the government peace panel. Corollary to these twin rights is the design for feedback mechanisms. among other things. One. E. No. jurisprudence finds no distinction as to the executory nature or commercial character of the agreement. and Republic Act No. Notably. comments.
already a constitutional violation that renders the MOA-AD fatally defective. WHEREFORE. by itself. for the only way that the Executive can ensure the outcome of the amendment process is through an undue influence or interference with that process. While the MOA-AD would not amount to an international agreement or unilateral declaration binding on the Philippines under international law. . respondents' act of guaranteeing amendments is. The main and intervening petitions are GIVEN DUE COURSE and hereby GRANTED. respondents' motion to dismiss is DENIED.process of initiative. The Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001 is declared contrary to law and the Constitution.
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