Amending the Constitution will help clear ‘stumbling blocks’ to solving PH rebellions

Written by Antonio L. Colina, IV and Jenny F. Manongdo.

The government is open to amending the 1987 Constitution because, for one, it has become a “stumbling block” to the ongoing peace talks with rebel groups, according to Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) Jesus Dureza.

“If you really look up what they (rebels) aspire for, you have to open up our Constitution to be able to accommodate them. That is the reality,” Dureza said in a statement quoting his remarks during the recent Konsult Mindanao Peace Conference in Davao City participated in by Lumad, Muslim and Christian leaders from across Mindanao last Friday.

Dureza said amending or rewriting the country’s Constitution could address the root causes of the armed resistance to the government.

He said the existing Constitution makes it hard for the government panels to negotiate with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines/Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (NDFP/CPP-NPA), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

“If you talk with the CPP and even the Bangsamoro (MILF, MNLF) they will never admit and agree that they will be circumscribed by a Constitution or by our laws,” Dureza said.

Citing the defunct Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during the past Aquino administration, he said that failure to pass the BBL in Congress can be blamed on the perceived unconstitutionality of the provisions of the proposed bill.

Dureza said some of the contentious provisions of the BBL could be included in the proposed new charter.

He said amendments to the constitution could even accelerate the peace negations with the NDF.

Dureza added that there was no reference was made to the Constitution aside from the international laws and protocols when signing the previous agreements with the rebels.

The peace adviser emphasized the panels have to work within the confines of the Constitution to continue working on the final peace settlement despite their “opposing views and ideologies.”

He said that President Duterte’s campaign for federalism will require constitutional reforms, which Dureza said could open up to other reforms in response “to the strong of the president for a more inclusive economic development strategy and direction.”

Source: Manila Bulletin