Carpio confident that PH can achieve peace with communist rebels

Published June 2, 2021, 4:13 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Wednesday, June 2, expressed confidence that the Philippines can forge a peace agreement with communist rebels in Mindanao as long as it is forged within the framework of the Constitution.

“A peace agreement with the communist rebels should not be more difficult to forge than the agreement with the Muslim cessationist. As long as there is a genuine desire for peace, good faith, and a commitment to the welfare of the Filipino people on both sides, the political, social, and economic issues raised by the communist rebels can be resolved within the parameters of the Constitution,” he said.

Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice and 1Sambayan convenor Antonio T. Carpio (JOHN JEROME GANZON / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Carpio spoke before the virtual Townhall event “Talakayang Bayan: Kapayapaan, Makakamit Ka Pa Ba?” organized by 1Sambayan, in which Carpio is a lead convenor.

“I am an optimist when it comes to the future of our country. As long as we follow the rule of law and adhere to the fundamental principles laid down in the Constitution that the Filipino people have approved overwhelmingly, we can finally bring peace to our land,” the former justice said.

“Peace is the ultimate prerequisite for a full-blown social, political, and economic development for the country,” Carpio added.

He said that the Republic Act 11054, or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM), can be the model of another peace agreement with communist rebels.

Carpio is confident that it might finally bring peace to the conflict-torn region.

“Congress crafted a fair, balanced, and good law in RA 11054. Congress carefully saw to it that Republic Act 11054 followed faithfully the Constitution,” he said in his online message.

The law, which was signed on July 27, 2018 by President Duterte, aims to establish a new autonomous political entity in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR) and seeks to bring peace by addressing the grievances, sentiments, and demands of the Muslims in the region.

The OLBARMM will provide annual block grants and special development funds for the rehabilitation of the damaged communities in the Bangsamoro region. The amount will be equivalent to 5 percent of the net national internal revenue collection of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

That will amount to around P60 to P70 billion per year.

Carpio, a known critic of Duterte, said that the OLBARMM avoided the constitutional challenges “that doomed the MOA-AD,” referring to the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain that was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2008 because the process was “whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary, and despotic.”

The MOA-AD, a proposal under former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, will give the Bangsamoro Judicial Entity (BJE) its own “basic law,” police and internal security force, a system of banking, civil service, education, and legislative and electoral institutions.

Critics said it would have led to the formation of an independent state, and lawmakers and interest groups brought the issue to the Tribunal.

Carpio, who was one of the justices who insisted on declaring the process unconstitutional despite Malacanang’s decision not to pursue it, said that the new law—RA 11054—“will largely stand the test of constitutionality.”

He also believes that as a whole, the Supreme Court will uphold the law, “finally proving to all Filipinos and to the world” that the long-standing conflict in Mindanao can be resolved peacefully “within the constitutional framework.”