MANILA, Philippines - The national government will maintain its authority and control over "non-negotiable" powers amid the preliminary framework agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) set to be signed on Oct. 15 on a new autonomous political entity (NPE) to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said these powers include foreign policy, internal defense, and external security. This is in spite of the MILF's demand for "more autonomy," she added.
"They asked for more autonomy, ok lang yun... Malaking bagay na hindi pinursige ng MILF yung layunin nila for a sub-state. Naging kwestyunable yun, a sensitive issue. Why create a a sub-state? This is just one state, one country," she said.
The justice chief also pointed out that as far as the justice system is concerned, the Supreme Court (SC) still exercises jurisdiction over the shariah courts.
"It's understood, we just have one Supreme Court. Any courts created under the basic law will still fall within the supervision and control of the Supreme Court," De Lima said.
While the framework agreement contains the "overview and the general ideas and principles" of the final peace pact, annexes will eventually be attached to it containing "power-sharing" between the national and NPE governments, and the sharing of wealth and revenues, De Lima said.
The NPE, which will be dubbed "Bangsamoro," will cover a smaller area compared to what was identified in the failed MOA-AD during the Arroyo administration: the five provinces of the ARMM, 6 Lanao del Norte municipalities, and villages in 6 municipalities in North Cotabato, Cotabato City, and Isabela City in Basilan.
The breakthrough agreement came after 13 exploratory talks between the MILF and the Aquino administration.
De Lima said the NPE framework is made available to the public even before the signing of the preliminary pact for the sake of transparency and so that stakeholders can express their views on it.
"Yung MOA-AD naging controversial yun dahil bigla na lang yun nilabas… all of a sudden, it was foisted on the Filipino people… maraming umalma because they were not consulted. Kaya pinalabas na yan (preliminary agreement) even before the signing para malaman na ng taumbayan kung anong laman nyan.
"It's brought out there in the open for the people to know exactly what are its provisions so that the people, all stakeholders, can express their views also for consideration," she said.