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August 4, 2008

Philippine former senate warns govt of pact with Muslims
Former senate president Franklin Drilon on Sunday said President Gloria Arroyo would commit an impeachable offense if her representatives signed an

agreement on ancestral domain with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, reported the Manila Times.
Drilon, also a former Justice secretary, said the proposed agreement “unconstitutionally” surrenders Philippine authority to the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity

(BJE) as the Bangsamoro territory no longer forms part of the national public domain. Bangsamoro refers to the Muslim minority in southern Philippines.
“You cannot divide sovereignty, which the agreement provides for when it allows BJE to exercise shared authority and responsibility with the Philippine

government over the Bangsamoro homeland,” the Manila Time quoted Drilon as saying.
Drilon said President Arroyo would still be held accountable even if the peace pact was signed by her peace advisers because they could do so only upon

her authority.
“This Memorandum of Agreement goes beyond the constitutional parameters and boundaries, which provide only for autonomous regions. I am for the

granting of full and genuine authority to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) but the process should not violate the Constitution,” he added.
Drilon cited reports that the agreement would authorize the BJE to sign trade pacts, friendship treaties and other international agreements with foreign

countries and send representatives to the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
The proposed homeland will be governed by the juridical entity, which will have authority to send trade missions to and enter into economic-cooperation

agreements with other countries provided such agreements do not include aggression against the Philippine government. The entity can also send

representatives to the Asean and the UN.
“Moreover, the Terms of Reference cites the UN Charter, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law, which only

sovereign states can be party to,” Drilon said.
Media reports also claimed that under the proposed peace agreement, the planned Bangsamoro homeland will have its own “basic law,” police and internal-

security force, system of banking and finance and civil-service, educational, legislative and electoral institutions. It also will exercise full authority to

develop and dispose of minerals and other natural resources within its territory.
Provincial officials of Lanao del Norte and Cotabato earlier decried the lack of consultations on the inclusion of barangays within their territories in the MILF’s

ancestral domain. The proposed agreement on ancestral domain involves 712 villages that are not part of the autonomous region in Mindanao.
It was this expansion of ARMM that apparently drove Malacanang to seek the postponement of the regional elections scheduled for August 11. The polls will

likely push through because of lack of material time to reset them and strong opposition from senators.

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