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The Province of North Cotabato v.

Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Peace Panel

on Ancestral Domain G.R. No. 183591, October 14, 2008, 568 SCRA 402


After series of peace talks between the GRP and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), on August 5,
2008, through the chairpersons of their respective negotiating panels, the two parties were to sign a
MOA on the Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) Aspect of the GRP – MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001
in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. However, the signing was not to materialize, for upon motion of petitions
specially those who filed before its signing date, the Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining
Order enjoining the GRP from signing the same. The MOA-AD gives to the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity
(BJE) the attributes of a state, with its own people, territory, government, armed forces, foreign trade
missions, and all other institutions of a state, under the BJE's own basic law or constitution.

As part of the facts, overview of the MOA-AD is given as follows:

The main body of the MOA-AD is divided into four strands, namely, Concepts & Principles,
Territory, Resources, and Governance.

The proposed Agreement was to acknowledge the “birthright of all Moros and all Indigenous
peoples of Mindanao to identify themselves and be accepted as ‘Bangsamoros’. It defined ‘Bangsamoro
people’ as the natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and its adjacent islands including Palawan and
the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest of colonization, and their descendants whether mixed or
full blood, including their spouses.

The Agreement mentions of a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity(BJE), to which the former grants the
authority and jurisdiction over the Ancestral Domain and Ancestral Lands of the Bangsamoros.

Under paragraph 3 on Concepts and Principles of the MOA-AD, ancestral domain, which consists
of ancestral lands and the natural resources in such lands, does not form part of the public domain.
Thus, the ancestral domain of the Bangsamoro refers to the lands that all the peoples in Mindanao, Sulu
and Palawan possessed before the arrival of the Spaniards in 1521. In short, the ancestral domain of the
Bangsamoro refers to the entire Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan. (Court interpretation)

It further specified that “territory of the Bangsamoro homeland”, described therein “as the land
mass as well as the maritime, terrestrial, fluvial and alluvial domains, including the aerial domain and the
atmospheric space above it, embracing the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan geographic region.” Significantly, it
indicated that “the BJE shall have jurisdiction over all natural resources within its ‘internal waters’,
defined as extending fifteen (15) kilometers from the coastline of the BJE area; that the BJE shall also
have ‘territorial waters’ which shall stretch beyond the BJE internal waters up to the baselines of the
Republic of the Philippines (RP) south east and south west of mainland Mindanao; and that within these
territorial waters, the BJE and the ‘Central Government’ or RP shall exercise joint jurisdiction, authority
and management over al natural resources. Notably, the jurisdiction over the internal waters is not
similarly described as ‘joint’”. It further provided for the sharing of minerals on the territorial waters
between the Central Government and the BJE, in favor of the latter, through sharing and economic
cooperation agreement.
Under the proposed Agreement, the ‘Bangsamoro people’ are acknowledged as having the right
to self-governance, which right is said to be rooted on ancestral territoriality exercised originally under
the suzerain authority of their sultanates and the Pat a Pangampong ku Ranaw.”

Moreover, the proposed Agreement stated that “the BJE is free to enter into any economic
cooperation and trade relations with foreign countries and shall have the option to establish trade
missions in those countries.”

ISSUE: Whether or not the Land Claims under the MOA-AD just or constitutional.


The Supreme Court rendered the MOA-AD unconstitutional. The signing of GRP to the
Agreement subjects the Philippine Constitution to drastic changes, as compliance to the provisions of
the MOA-AD. Included in the change is on Article 1 on the National Territory, during the oral arguments,
Atty. Sedfrey Candelaria stated that this provision would have to be amended to conform to the MOA-

Under international law, every sovereign and independent State has the inherent right to
protect from dismemberment its territorial integrity, political unity and national sovereignty. There is a
duty to protect the territorial integrity, political unity and national sovereignty of the nation in
accordance with the Constitution.

Furthermore, the fact that the BJE has all the attributes of a state, with the acknowledged
power to enter into international treaties with foreign countries, gives the BJE the status and legal
personality to be a party to a case before the ICJ. In fact, by agreeing in the MOA-AD that the BJE, on its
own, can enter into international treaties, the Philippines admits and recognizes the international legal
personality of the BJE, with the capacity to sue and be sued in international tribunals.

Once the MOA-AD is signed, international law steps in resulting in irreversible consequences
extremely damaging to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines. No subsequent ruling
or order of this Court can undo this terrible damage, or put back a dismembered Philippines.

Where the Executive branch is negligent in exercising this solemn duty in violation of the
Constitution, this Court, in the appropriate case as in the present petitions, must step in because every
member of this Court has taken a sworn duty to defend and uphold the Constitution.


Guys, I included this as another reference kay di ko kita asa ni gi source out nga decision haha naa sd ni
sa atong book.
Sourced online : https://rsbast.blogspot.com/2012/12/normal-0-false-false-false-en-us-x-none_4.html
GR No. 183591,
Province of North Cotabato v. Republic
October 14, 2008
The Government and the MILF were scheduled to sign a Memorandum of
Agreement on the Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli
Agreement on Peace of 2001 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The GRP-MILF agreement is
the result of a formal peace talks between the parties in Tripoli, Libya in 2001. The
pertinent provisions in the MOA-AD provide for the establishment of an associative
relationship between the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) and the Central
Government. It speaks of the relationship between the BJE and the Philippine
government as associative, thus implying an international relationship and therefore
suggesting an autonomous state. Furthermore, under the MOA-AD, the GRP Peace
Panel guarantees that necessary amendments to the Constitution and the laws will
eventually be put in place.
ISSUE: Whether the MOA-AD is constitutional

No. The SC ruled that the MOA-AD cannot be reconciled with the present
Constitution and laws. Not only its specific provisions but the very concept underlying
them, namely, the associative relationship envisioned between the GRP and the BJE,
are unconstitutional, for the concept presupposes that the associated entity is a state
and implies that the same is on its way to independence. Moreover, as the clause is
worded, it virtually guarantees that the necessary amendments to the Constitution and
the laws will eventually be put in place. Neither the GRP Peace Panel nor the President
herself is authorized to make such a guarantee. Upholding such an act would amount to
authorizing a usurpation of the constituent powers vested only in Congress, a
Constitutional Convention, or the people themselves through the process of initiative, for
the only way that the Executive can ensure the outcome of the amendment process is
through an undue influence or interference with that process. While the MOA-AD would
not amount to an international agreement or unilateral declaration binding on the
Philippines under international law, the respondents ‘ act of guaranteeing amendments
is, by itself, already a constitutional violation that renders the MOA-AD fatally defective.
The MOA-AD contains provisions which are repugnant to the Constitution and which will
result in the virtual surrender of part of the Philippines’ territorial sovereignty. Had the
MOA-AD been signed by parties, would have bound the government to the creation of a
separate Bangsamoro state having its own territory, government, civil institutions, and
armed forces. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines would have
been compromised.