It was interesting that former Assemblyman and Governor Homobono Adaza recently filed a criminal complaint for treason against PNoy and the members of the Philippine peace panel. Treason is defined as the “act of levying war against the Philippines or adhering to its enemies, giving them aid or comfort within the Philippine Islands or elsewhere”. According to Bono, the fact that the President and the members of the peace panel entered into an agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which would for all instances, create a sub-state in violation of the ponencia of now Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales in the case of North Cotobato vs Peace Panel, is an act of treason.
While I agree that the Bangsamoro Basic Law is contrary to the Constitution and that its proponents are traitors to the Republic, I do not think the complaint for treason will prosper. This is because treason, in jurisprudence, is a crime committed in times only of an international armed conflict. The act of levying war must be against the Republic of the Philippines at a time when it is at war with a foreign enemy. This is why the only convictions we have for this crime were against those who fought with or collaborated with the Japanese during World War two.
Does this mean though that P Noy and the rest of the proponents of the BBL have no criminal culpability?
Certainly not. The MILF as a domestic armed group is guilty of rebellion for “rising publicly and taking arms against the Government for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said Government or its laws, the territory of the Philippine Islands or any part thereof”. Certainly, their use of arms for the purpose of establishing an independent state is the classic crime of rebellion. What is the criminal liability of those who will aid or abet those engaged in the crime of rebellion? Well, the Revised Penal Code punishes not only those who lead and directly participate in the rebellion, but also those who conspire to commit the crime. Moreover, the law also punishes public officers or employees who have failed to resist a rebellion by all the means in their power. Perhaps, this is how we can hold Ging Deles et al responsible for their loyalty to the MILF.
And while I think that Bono’s complaint for treason will not stand, it is still my hope that the Ombudsman will nonetheless file the correct charges against those who have betrayed the Republic.
In this regard, the Ombudsman could act against Deles et al motu propio and without a formal complaint. This becomes more imperative given her ponencia of the Supreme Court decision that struck down the MOA-AD, precursor of the BBL, as unconstitutional. Certainly, the executive’s insistence on the BBL, which restates provisions already declared unconstitutional by the court, also amounts to the felony of insubordination to judicial orders.
What did the Ombudsman say in her ponencia against the MOA-AD, which were disregarded by those pushing for the BBL?
Well, the Ombudsman was clear that neither the President nor her negotiators could commit that neither the Constitution nor our laws will be amended to accommodate the peace agreement. As ruled by then Justice Carpio- Morales: “Given the limited nature of the President’s authority to propose constitutional amendments, she cannot guarantee to any third party that the required amendments will eventually be put in place, nor even be submitted to a plebiscite. The most she could do is submit these proposals as recommendations either to Congress or the people, in whom constituent powers are vested”.
The parliamentary form of government provided in the BBL already requires an amendment of the Constitution. This is because what is currently provided by our Charter is that “Congress shall enact an organic act for each autonomous region…. consisting of the executive and legislative assembly, both of which shall be elective”. There is no Executive in a parliamentary form of government and its Chief Minister is not elected by the people but by members of the parliament.
In any case, the fact that the BBL establishes a sub-state in breach of the Constitution and of the decision of the Supreme Court, is apparent in its provisions granting the entity its own maritime zones, its own bill of rights, police force, Civil Service Commission, Commission on Audit, and Commission of Human Rights. All these are clear indicia of a sovereign state, which cannot exist in our current unitary form of government. In one case, our Supreme Court said that in a unitary state, “local governments can only be an intra sovereign subdivision of one sovereign nation, it cannot be an imperium in imperio. Local government in such a system can only mean a measure of decentralization of the function of government”.
What is very clear is that the BBL will establish an independent state within the Republic of the Philippines.
The bottom line is this: Bono may be wrong in filing treason against P Noy, Deles et al. He is however, infinitely correct in wanting that all those who have proven to be disloyal to the Republic should be punished for their acts. Let’s hope the Ombudsman agrees with him as well.
This post first appeared on http://manilastandardtoday.com/2015/03/12/treason-2/