Social Devt Council Ateneo Peace Institute (API)

By Tetch Torres
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 14:04:00 11/21/2008

 

MANILA, Philippines -- The Supreme Court denied with finality a plea to reverse its earlier ruling declaring unconstitutional the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In a three-page resolution, the high court dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by the Muslim Legal Assistance Foundation Inc. and the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society.

The high court said the two organizations failed to raise any new issue that might warrant the reversal of its October 14 ruling.

"The Court resolved to deny with finality the said motions, as the basic issues raised therein have been passed upon by this Court and no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision," the decision said.

Lawyer Nasser Marohomsalic and the Muslim Legal Assistance Foundations Incorporations told the high court that it should uphold the validity of the agreement because, contrary to the apprehensions of several petitioners, the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) which will be created through the MOA-AD, will not become a separate state but remain part of the Philippine archipelago.

The petitioners also said the MOA-AD was forged in the hope of achieving a lasting piece in Mindanao.

The Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society and the Bangsamoro Women Solidarity Forum told the high court the unusual model of the negotiations between government and the MILF that led to the drafting of the MOA-AD is better than the model used in forging peace with the Moro National Liberation Front, which it said failed to bring lasting peace to Mindanao.

Last October 14, the high court declared the MOA-AD unconstitutional.

The agreement was supposed to be signed in Kuala Lumpur in early August but the high court issued a temporary restraining order against the signing.

The decision triggered renewed hostilities between government and MILF forces in Central Mindanao after rebel units attacked civilian communities there.

Although the government subsequently said it was no longer honoring the agreement, the eight justices who voted that the MOA-AD is unconstitutional said it was still important for a ruling to be made.

The high court also reminded President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that she cannot unilaterally exercise her power and enter into agreements that might need changes to the Constitution.

 

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