(Third of a series)
To all of us who were not privy to the intense discussions in the peace negotiations, the MOA-AD has a lot of ambiguity as well as questionable presentation. Muslims, Christians, Lumad would want such issues to be clarified, before saying yes or no to the consensus points.
It is nowhere stated in the MOA-AD that the MILF acknowledges the authority and sovereignty of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines over all the territories covered by the term “Republic” in the Constitution of the Philippines. It has been reported, of course, that the MILF does not recognize the Philippine Constitution. So here are some questions.
2.1.Abstracting from the reported MILF rejection of the Constitution, Filipino citizens would want to know in clear terms: Does the MILF recognize either de iure or de facto that the Republic of the Philippines holds authority and sovereignty over the whole of Mindanao, Sulu, and Palawan?
2.2.Does the MILF, with the MOA-AD, as a stepping stone intend to set up an independent State? In other words, is the MOA-AD an initial process of dismembering the Republic of the Philippines?
2.3.Did the Lumad people agree to being coopted into the Bangsamoro? By virtue of the IPRA Law, do they not in fact have their own ancestral domain? What happens to this Lumad ancestral domain when they are coopted by virtue of the MOA-AD into the Bangsamoro?
2.4.What do the negotiating panels mean by “associative relationship and associative arrangements”?
2.5.Does the use of the term “central government” in the MOA-AD connote the idea that the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity recognizes the authority of a central government over it?
2.6.Does the term “shared authority and control” in the MOA-AD connote the exercise of power by two equal authorities, or is it a recognition that in the sharing there is a “primus inter pares” principle?
2.7.Is the MOA-AD faithful to the idea repeatedly reported that negotiations would take place while safeguarding the sovereignty of the Republic?
2.8.What happens if the Congress of the Philippines is unwilling to make the necessary changes in the Constitution envisioned by the MOA-AD? What happens if the MNLF and/or the ARMM do not agree with the MILF vision?
2.9.Why did the peace panels agree to include in Category A many barangays that are obviously Christian-dominated and thus make the MOA-AD unacceptable?
3. At present, I give the MOA-AD and the two peace panels the benefit of the doubt. They have worked at the agreement for years, painstakingly hammering out every word and every phase, every concept and its implications. I know that they have the interests of their respective constituencies always in mind. Right now, despite the ambiguities of the MOA-AD, I sincerely believe that both parties, given the complexities of the situation, have admirably attempted a remarkable balancing between Bangsamoro aspirations for self determination and GRP conviction in its own national sovereignty.
4. Therefore, my present interpretation of the MOA-AD is that it attempts to apply a treasured social principle called the Principle of Subsidiarity. Enshrined in the social teachings of the Catholic Church, the principle of subsidiarity may be expressed in the following way: a member of the social organism may do everything it is capable of, in freedom and self-determination, for its own good and for the good of the social organism. It is only when the member fails to do so that the social organism intervenes and provides the necessary assistance. The principle of subsidiarity is a principle of governance, authority, decision-making, etc., for the secular community. Nowadays Catholic scholars prefer to use an analogically similar principle called the principle of “communion” as more applicable to the Church community.
5. The answers to the questions posed above may prove me wrong about the MOA-AD as a concrete application of the principle of subsidiarity. But if the answers prove me right, then it is my contention that the peace process is going in the right direction.
+Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Cotabato
August 9, 2008