Supreme Court Will Rule on Political Issues Raised by BJE MoA

Rather than dismiss the petition questioning the constitutionality of the proposed memorandum of agreement on the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) for being moot and academic, as the government would want, the Supreme Court appears intent on ruling squarely on the issues raised. This much is evident from the tone of the questioning of the justices, including the Chief Justice, during the last day of oral arguments on the petition questioning the MoA last August 29. All of those who questioned Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera expressed their doubts on the legality of the document and lack of clarity in the government’s stand.

Chief Justice Puno also told reporters at the Ramon Magsaysay awards ceremonies that the high tribunal will resolve all the political questions engendered by the MoA, and not take the tried and tested catch-all cop-out of dismissing political or premature issues, as compared to constitutional issues, out of hand.

It’s a very important case, the most critical one to confront the (Puno) court. And so while we’ll be giving it the highest priority, we shall at the same time be extra careful in making the resolution. You cannot close your eyes to the realities on the ground.

Although the parties were then given 20 days to submit their respective memoranda and position papers on the matter, my guess is that individual justices have already made up their minds on the issues and we can expect a decision before the end of the month. The most likely outcome, given the free reign given to certain justices, like Carpio and Azcuna, to make public their positions on the controversy, is that there is a unanimous, or at least a clear majority, consensus that the aborted covenant is unconstitutional.

But I doubt if any ruling by the Supreme Court will bring about peace in Mindanao. The MILF will have none of it, and has emphatically declared, in actions if not words, its intention to defer the peace process and continue fighting. At best, it provides the government the legal justification to formally distance itself from the failed MoA and the armed forces sufficient cause to escalate hostilities.

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