rePost: Bangsamoro ancestral domain accord may suffer same fate as ZTE ruling

The way that the Supreme Court has been ruling has made it less effective. It has used everything it can to not make any ruling whatsoever. This is patently wrong because illegal stuff keeps happening. Its like do something illegal and rescind it and everything is okay. This is wrong and it has been the habit of the present administration to continually skirt the consequences of their illegal actions by simply rescinding the stuff that they do confident in their belief that the executive department will not be reprimanded by the judiciary. This must stop. The Judiciary must find its balls.

from ABS-CBN news here:

August 22, 2008 Friday, August 22, 2008 8:06 PM
Bangsamoro ancestral domain accord may suffer same fate as ZTE ruling

By Aries C. Rufo

The constitutional questions plaguing the ancestral domain agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front may be resolved the same way the Supreme Court ruled on the equally controversial $329 million National Broadband Network Project.

Like the NBN deal, the SC is poised to rule on the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). The anti-MOA petitioners want the High Court to decide on its constitutionality but a number of the justices’ questions today during the nine-hour oral argument focused on the case being moot following the government’s move not to sign the document in view of the political storm it has whipped.

The SC, by a vote of 11-3, junked last month for being moot the petition of Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplico to declare the NBN-ZTE contract void. This after the Arroyo government cancelled the contract after revelations it was tainted with alleged bribe offers.

In the ZTE case, dissenting justices questioned the High Court’s cop-out, warning such questionable contracts are bound to be repeated.

In the MOA-AD controversy, such scenario appears headed for a replay as justices raised the argument that it may be premature for them to take action on the case.

In Friday’s hearing, justices zeroed in on the apparent lack of “justiciable” action on the MOA-AD since it appears it is not yet a “perfected contract.”

Not yet a contract
Justice Antonio Nachura, a former Solicitor-General, first raised the supposed premature action to contest the MOA-AD, pointing out that “there is no MOA in the first place” since it was only initialed and not signed.

Justice Ruben Reyes pointed out that under the provision of contracts, the MOA-AD has no legal significance “with the absence of signature” and thus, “not yet a perfected document.”

Counsel for the provincial government of North Cotabato, Estrelito Torreon, agreed that the while the initialing of the MOA-AD may show that the provisions “are not a done deal,” it however, “formalizes consent” by government to commit to the provisions.

Torreon said initialing the MOA-AD “may have an effect in international law” which can be used by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to further advance its claim for self-determination.

This was dismissed by Reyes, saying “I don’t agree with your answer.”

The MOA-AD provides for a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity that will oversee the new Moro ancestral domain. Under it, the BJE can create its own judicial system, police forces and can enter into economic agreements and establish trade relations with other countries.

Reyes said the initialing of the MOA-AD may simply mean that the parties “have initialed a true and correct copy” and not necessarily the final contract because the one who initialed the document on behalf of government “has no authority.”

GRP peace panel chair Rodolfo Garcia initialed the MOA-AD with MILF counterpart Mohagher Iqbal and was witnessed by Datuk Othman Abdul Raza, special adviser to the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Asked by Reyes if a signature is requisite to make the MOA-AD valid, Torreon said that the lack of signature in the document does not yet bind the government. To which Reyes replied: “So it is not a contract, not an agreement (yet).”