MoA could have been legal

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE signing of the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain will trigger changes in the 1987 Constitution in order to fully implement the provisions of the agreement, including the creation of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity with territorial jurisdiction over an expanded Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao.

This was the observation made by Associate Justices Adolfo Azcuna and Antonio Carpio during the continuation of the oral arguments on the MoA-AD yesterday.

Azcuna and Carpio said had the signing of the MoA-AD pushed through last August 5 with witnesses coming from foreign powers, the act would have constituted an obligation by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines under international law.

Interpellating Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera, Azcuna asked what could be the consequences of the signing of the MoA.

However, Devanadera could not give any substantial response to Azcuna’s question.

Because of this, Carpio stated that the agreement will be “legally binding” even if the MoA-AD signed by the peace panel was only in its preliminary stage.

Devanadera insisted that the MoA was only preliminary and not yet final because it needs the approval of the President. She said the MoA-AD, even if signed by the GRP, would not constitute an international obligation on the part of the government.

“You are risking the disbarment of our country on your conjecture that the treaty is not an international obligation,” Carpio warned.

“Regardless of whether the agreement is preliminary or not, the point is that we will have to comply with international obligations. And that includes revising our constitution whether we like it or not,” he added.

He also noted that the Philippines cannot do anything if Malaysia and the MILF insist on implementing the provisions of the MoA-AD.

Provisions in the MOA-AD necessitating charter or constitutional change include establishing the BJE’s own land and maritime territory, police, internal security forces and judiciary.