Atty. Zainudin S. Malang
(LL.M., I.M.R.I, J.D.)


The breakdown of the series of exploratory talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) at their 13th Exploratory Talks in September of 2006 highlighted once again how constitutional issues affect any attempt to resolve the conflict in Mindanao. Regardless of whether one takes the position that a peace agreement should be intra-constitutional or extra-constitutional, the fact remains that a negotiated and peaceful resolution to the conflict depends on how such issues are dealt with by the negotiating parties.

The negotiations – curiously called Exploratory Talks - between the GRP and MILF have three main items on the agenda: 1) security, 2) rehabilitation and development, and 3) ancestral domain. Arguably, the most contentious of the three is ancestral domain, given that the four strands into which it is divided are highly contentious in nature and strike at the core of the conflict: Concept, Resources, Territory, and Governance.[1]

Prior to the September Exploratory Talks, the parties were reportedly optimistic, albeit guarded, on the progress of the negotiations. They had already signed and implemented agreements on the first two items in their agenda, which are security, and rehabilitation and development. They had then moved on to a discussion of the four strands of ancestral domain.

In the Joint Statement they released shortly after their previous round of talks, they declared that they have made “substantial gains.”[2] A consensus on the concept of ancestral domain had been arrived at, and they were tackling the next strand, which was defining the territorial scope of that domain. In some of their public statements, the GRP even said the negotiations were about 85% finished. [3]

Unfortunately, the optimism that preceded the September talks was replaced by disappointment. The GRP described the talks as reaching an “impasse”; their MILF counterparts spoke about a “breakdown.”

Initially, the panels ascribed the impasse or breakdown to disagreements over the geographical scope (territory) of the ancestral domain. However, in subsequent statements, a deeper reason emerged and this was the insistence of the GRP panel to subject the issue on territory through a constitutional process, i.e., a plebiscite.

"We have presented constitutional options on the negotiating table consistent with socio-demographic realities and equitable development that will ensure just and durable peace," said the chairman of the GRP Panel. He went on to say that the government negotiators do not have the mandate to explore solutions to the issue of territory outside the parameters of the constitution.[4]

The MILF, in its own statement, said the GRP’s insistence on constitutional parameters as limitations on the negotiations shows that the GRP cannot think “out of the box.”[5] This constitutional box had already resulted in failed agreements between the MNLF and GRP, the other Moro liberation front with which the GRP had earlier entered into an agreement. Emphatically, the MILF warned that “by insisting on solving the Mindanao problem within the framework of the Philippine constitution (the ‘box’), the GRP had already consigned to doom any chance of ending the conflict”.[6]

The preceding backgrounder on the GRP-MILF Exploratory Talks indicates how strict constitutionalism and legalism can hold back the negotiated resolution of the Mindanao conflict.[7] This background paper intends to show how the Philippine constitutions have informed and contributed to the conflict, and how they helped generate feelings of alienation and deprivation that became the core grievance of the Moro liberation fronts now asserting the right to self-determination. Hopefully, it can shed better light on the viability of intra and extra-constitutional options for a peaceful resolution.


The Philippine constitution has been subjected to a great degree of scrutiny brought about by attempts to amend it. Every national administration since the time of President Corazon Aquino under whose tenure the present 1987 Constitution - the 6th in the country’s history – was adopted has attempted to revise it, albeit unsuccessfully. None, however, has shown a more dogged determination to do so than the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The 1987 Constitution allows for two modes of amendment or revision: through a constitutional convention or constituent assembly.[8] Amendments also have a third mode, people’s initiative.[9] A constitutional convention requires the passage of a law calling for the election of delegates who would draft the revisions or amendments and propose it to the general electorate by way of a referendum. A constituent assembly requires the legislature to convene itself as such and thereafter draft the constitutional changes to be proposed to the electorate. A people’s initiative requires a certain percentage of registered voters, certified by the Commission of Elections, to directly propose to the electorate the proposed amendments.

Of the three modes, President Arroyo and her political allies had tried the latter two. In 2005, she created a 55-member commission with the express mandate to “conduct consultations and studies and propose amendments and revisions to the 1987 Constitution.”[10] Their recommendations were to be submitted before the national legislature (Congress) sitting as a constituent assembly.[11]

President Arroyo’s allies in the House of Representatives managed to pass a resolution convening the body as a constituent assembly,[12] notwithstanding stiff resistance by the vastly outnumbered opposition delegates, who held that any such resolution must be concurred by the Senate which latter refuses to do.[13] When the resistance to the resolution threatened to spill onto the streets and spark massive unrest, the resolution was abandoned.[14]

In the meantime, a controversial parallel move to introduce amendments via a people’s initiative was nullified by the Supreme Court for being deceptively undertaken.[15]


A. Evolution of Philippine Constitutions

The recent attempts to revise the 1987 Constitution show that Philippine constitutions do not enjoy the kind of permanence that organic acts are normally accorded. In a span of one century, the Philippines had several constitutions and organic acts.

On June 12, 1898, near the end of the Filipinos’ war of liberation from Spanish colonization, revolutionaries declared independence from Spain in the town of Kawit in the northern island of Luzon. Later that year, delegates convened in the town of Malolos in the island of Luzon and drafted the constitution of the First Philippine Republic.

However, the Malolos Constitution and the First Philippine Republic, as it has came to be known, was short-lived due to the arrival of the Americans, who took over from the Spaniards and occupied the archipelago.

During the American period, there were several organic acts that governed the administration of the islands. These were President McKinley’s Instructions to the Second Philippine Commission, the Philippine Bill of 1902, and the Jones Law (1916). Though not strictly speaking constitutions, they nonetheless partook of the nature of constitutions as fundamental laws.[16] They became the legal standard by which the validity of all governmental actions in the Philippine islands would be determined.

Pursuant to the Tydings-McDuffie Act and in accordance with American intent and Filipino wishes to enact their own fundamental laws, a convention was called in 1934 that led to the drafting and adoption of the 1935 Constitution. However, its application was suspended during World War II, when Japan occupied the Philippines. During that period, another constitution was adopted known as the 1943 Constitution. In 1946, after the end of the Japanese period, the Philippines reverted to the 1935 Constitution.

By the late 1960s, there was widespread discomfort that the Philippines was still using a constitution (1935 Constitution) that was drafted and adopted while the country was still under American tutelage. Thus, a constitutional convention began deliberations in 1971 which produced what came to be known as the 1973 Constitution.

Soon after President Ferdinand Marcos was removed from power through extra-constitutional means, the Aquino revolutionary government adopted the 1986 Freedom Constitution. Less than a year later, President Aquino appointed members to a Constitutional Commission that drafted what later came to be to be known as the 1987 Constitution.

The 1987 Constitution remains as the basic law of the Philippines, although there have been several unsuccessful attempts to amend or revise it.

B. Philippine Constitutionalism and Core Bangsamoro Grievances

Should Moro and government peace panels allow strict constitutionalism to delimit their options in resolving the Mindanao conflict? An examination of the possible nexus of Philippine constitutionalism to core Bangsamoro grievances may shed light on this question.

1. The Constitution and the Question of Plebiscitary Consent

One lawyer-academic describes the Mindanao conflict as actually a “clash between two imagined nations,”[17] i.e.,that of the Filipinos and the Moros. Thus, one nation’s re-assertion of its identity by invoking its right to self-determination (RSD) was met with an equally determined government response intent on preserving the unity of the Philippines as a nation. In most instances, the Philippine constitution is invoked as the basis for that response. So what do these “imagined nations” refer to?

The conventional premise is that Mindanao, Sulu, and Palawan have always been part of the republic under the constitution and any re-assertion by the Moros of a distinct identity over their traditional homeland is contrary to the constitution. This republic and constitution is traced to the watershed year of 1898 when Philippine revolutionaries (Katipunaneros) issued the Declaration of Independence and convened the Malolos Convention which eventually gave rise to the Malolos Constitution and the birth of the First Philippine Republic. Thus, if the Malolos Constitution were to be viewed as the first political articulation of Filipino national identity and their sovereign will, it is worth looking at the participation of Moros in the drafting and adoption of that document.

A look at the list of delegates to the Malolos Convention shows that none were Moros.[18] Attempts by Filipino revolutionaries to invite the Sultan of Sulu to join in the building of a Philippine republic – apparently an offshoot of Pres. Aguinaldo’s proposal to the Malolos Congress for negotiations with the Moros towards the establishment of national solidarity - were ignored, the Moros preferring to “retain their own views of independence and liberty”.[19] Therefore, it would not be possible to sustain the premise that Moros have always formed one body-politic with Filipinos going back to the establishment of the First Philippine Republic, without admitting that such inclusion was done without their “plebiscitary consent.”

Exactly how crucial is this lack of plebiscitary consent in Philippine constitutionalism and nation/state-building to the Mindanao conflict?

Reflecting on the status of the Moros long before the Malolos Convention was convened, Jesuit priest-historian Horacio Dela Costa wrote of “full-pledged sultanates with a fiscal administration, courts of justice, and a bureaucracy,”[20] indicating that these were not just nations as a sociological concepts but nation-states as politico-legal entities as well. Indeed, pre-dating the Filipinos’s own sense of nationhood and initial attempts at state-building, Moros were already exhorting Filipinos to rise up against the Spaniards centuries before they declared their independence from Spain in 1898. [21] Eventually, when they did rise up, Katipuneros had to concede the distinctness of the Moros as a nation by attempting to convince them to join the Philippine revolution.[22]

We have, therefore, two distinct identities as nations, each of which pursued a very different track in nation-building.[23] One – the Moros – already had a distinct consciousness as nation-states by the time the Spaniards arrived and pursued a staunchly independent stance for more than 3 centuries. The other – Filipino – only began to assert Filipino nationhood as a basis for resistance near the nadir of the Spanish empire. But this was only after the rejection of their pleas for recognition as regular Spanish citizens with all the appurtenant rights that goes with it. Thus, with these two very distinct national identities at the time of the establishment of the First Philippine Republic, the failure to obtain the plebiscitary consent of the Moros could not but lead to an eventual “clash between two imagined nations”.[24]

Granted that the Bangsamoro did not participate in the Malolos Convention and in the establishment of the First Philippine Republic, did succeeding constitutional conventions, wherein some Moro individuals participated, correct this flaw?

2. The Question of Mono-Nation or Multi-Nation State and the Process of Revising/Drafting Succeeding Constitutions

At first glance, entertaining the notion that this flaw, i.e. lack of plebiscitary consent, could have been corrected by succeeding constitutional revision projects is understandable. However, the opportunity to undertake this correction was illusory because of the parameters and assumptions that governed succeeding constitutional revision projects. In addition, these were undertaken in contravention of expressed wishes of Moro leaders against the inclusion of the Bangsamoro in the re-establishment of a Philippine Republic that was being jointly undertaken by the Filipinos and Americans.[25]

Framers of succeeding constitutions could have adopted President Aguinaldo’s proposal for the Filipinos to negotiate with Moros towards the establishment of a federal national set-up,[26] a proposal which necessarily assumed that the Moros are to be negotiated with as a nation and which proposal they may or may not accept. Instead, having adopted a Unitarian republican state structure, succeeding constitutional projects ignored the existence in the islands of at least two distinct national identities and was replaced by the assumption that the Philippines was and is a mono-nation state.

Armed with this false assumption, it became unnecessary to negotiate with Moros as a nation towards the mutual framing of a constitutional framework of Filipino-Bangsamoro relations. There was no need to negotiate because there was no other nation, there was only a Filipino nation. Thus, representatives from Mindanao who were appointed or elected to subsequent constitutional revision projects sat and participated as Filipinos representatives of their respective legislative districts, not as representatives of another nation. Lumped together with representatives from other islands of the “mono-nation” republic, the frameworks and assumptions of subsequent revision projects allowed representatives from Luzon and Visayas (Filipinos) to be the dominant voice in defining constitutional frameworks, both in their drafting and subsequent ratification.

Ideally, multi-nation societies embarking on state-formation through constitutional processes should negotiate that process as nations, and not as a collection of individuals. The process and the resultant constitution must reflect the socio-political reality of multiple identities. Rather than embarking on a process whereby one identity dominates it at the expense of the other, individuals must participate as representatives of their respective nations. The right and burden of state-formation must rest on the nations themselves. This is the only way to ensure parity and avoid dominance by one nation over the other through sheer numerical superiority of its members, which will inevitably give rise to an unstable state and future armed conflicts.

The nexus between the Filipinos’ constitutional dominance over nation-state formation and the Mindanao conflict is framed by Peter Kreuzer as follows:

"When emotive bonding is understood in ethnic terms and the state perceived as a nation-state, the need for nation-building is often equated with conquering the nation-state and extending one’s own culture over the whole national realm – if necessary by subjugating or assimilating other cultural groups. The successful ‘nation’ (i.e. ethnic group) claims ownership of the state, its resources and the right to rule, because it transforms its collective identity into the national identity. Its history, its traditions, its mores and religion become the foundation of the nation. State and imposed nation become co-terminus. Any such effort to impose one vision of the nation against others must end in violence."[27]

3. Unitarian/Mono-Nation Constitutional Framework in Practice

The mono-nation state assumption informed constitutions, which in turn eventually gave rise to a Unitarian state structure whereby state institutions formulating policies that directly affected Moros came to be dominated by Filipinos. As illustrations, one need only cite the state’s land and peace policies.

Land Policy. In the early 1900s, Moros comprised around 75% of the inhabitants of Mindanao, Sulu, and Palawan. By the turn of the next century, they were reduced to a mere 18%. Filipino settlers from Luzon and Visayas now constitute the majority of the inhabitants.[28]

This dramatic change did not happen by accident or without the active encouragement of state institutions dominated by Filipinos. Land laws[29] were passed that:

a. denied recognition to lands possessed by Moros by virtue of grants obtained from their Sultan
b. imposed a new land distribution system solely in the control of state institutions dominated by Filipinos
c. encouraged Filipinos to settle in traditional Moro homeland

Thus, it was through institutions created by a unitarian republican state structure that Filipinos managed to achieve what their former Spanish colonial masters failed to accomplish – the colonization of the Bangsamoro. Historian Manuel Quezon III writes:

"Here was the Philippines, at the threshold of independence, soon to be free from the colonial yoke of the Americans, and the leaders of this soon-to-be independent state was already laying the foundations for a new kind of colonialism. What an ironic state of affairs; for even as the majority of Filipino leaders exulted over their having finally secured local autonomy and guaranteed independence, they made sure that those very same things would be denied the Muslims in Mindanao. The Commonwealth of the Philippines was about to embark on internal colonialism – or colonization.

x x x

The end result can all the more be seen as internal colonialism. Flooding Mindanao with Christian settlers – the way Americans flooded the Midwest in the US – became one of the most effective ways of ensuring that the island would stay in the hands of the Republic."[30]

In the same article, Quezon quotes a passage from the book of the former Philippine President during the Commonwealth period who said:

“Unless we fully opened up, protected and settled, and thus made use of this great, rich, only partly developed island, some other nation might some day try to move in and make it their own. For the past twenty years, continued and successful efforts to colonize Mindanao from the north have been undertaken.” (President Manuel L. Quezon) [31]

Up until the 1950s, the state had adopted numerous land distribution laws and enforced resettlement policies that dramatically changed the demographics of Mindanao. But by the 1960s, the demographic reengineering program assumed a far more sinister form. Through military support for a para-military movement of settlers known as the Ilagas, land dispossession in Central, Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western Mindanao was achieved through outright forcible land-grabbing.

It was this land-grabbing that precipitated the formation of the Bangsa Moro Liberation Organization which, together with the original Moro National Liberation Front that spawned the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, launched the modern armed day struggle for re-assertion of Moro identity and right to the homeland.[32]

Peace Policy. The Unitarian republican state structure also explains the failed attempts by the executive branch of the state to peacefully settle the conflict.

In 1996, the executive branch of the state (GRP) entered into an agreement with the Misuari-led MNLF. Although the agreement’s title refers to it as a mere implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, it nonetheless says that the former shall prevail in case of any inconsistency with the latter. More noteworthy, the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) also concedes the supremacy of the constitution and constitutional processes in its implementation.[33] This meant that the FPA will have to pass through the other branch of the state – Congress or legislature – for purposes of enacting the implementing law.

Congress, however, is Filipino-dominated. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the last fact finding report of the OIC Secretary General’s Office states that the biggest obstacle to the implementation of the 1996 FPA is the very same law that was supposed to implement it.[34] And this, notwithstanding the fact that the executive branch of the state conducted a pro-active advocacy of the FPA with the legislature. In other words, the constitutionally created institutions of the unitarian republican state structure allowed the legislative representatives of the Filipino-majority to exercise “veto-power” over the 1996 FPA.

Interestingly, even as it maintains that the implementation of FPA is on track, the GRP’s report alludes to “certain constraints occasioned by economic crisis, complexities of Philippine democratic and constitutional processes and resurgence of other armed conflicts.”[35]


The Philippines has had no less than six constitutions, with the latest and existing one undergoing several attempts to revise it. And yet none of these constitutions have been able to peaceably settle the “Bangsamoro Question,” the same question that confronted the 1935 Constitution.

Moros participated in previous constitutional conventions as mere representatives of geographical political units, not as representatives of an identity distinct from that of Filipinos. The assimilation or integration of Moro identity in the dominant Filipino identity was assumed – or imposed – instead of constitution-making and state-building being a voluntary joint-undertaking of Filipino and Moro nations.

Thus, even constitutional provisions in the 1987 Constitution on autonomy in the Muslim areas were couched in legal and political terms by the dominant Filipinos. The terms of Bangsamoro-Filipino constitutional relations were still imposed by the latter. Moro representation in the conventions and commissions were just too minimal to inform their decisions. This is probably why Moro scholars refer to Philippine constitutional processes as a means to institutionalize Filipinos’ “veto power” over the Moros’ right to determine their political future. In this context, even recent attempts to introduce a federal structure may not offer much relief.

This is probably why agreed upon frameworks for negotiations between the GRP and MILF refer to a “new formula” in pursuing a peaceful resolution to the Bangsamoro Question.[36] The tried and tested constitutional formula of the past and present has been a dismal failure.


Nonetheless, taken purely from their perspective as mere agents of the state, the insistence of the GRP panel on constitutional process may be understandable. The members of the panel after all has two roles: one is to search for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, and the other is to abide by existing laws and constitutions just like any other employee or agent of the state. This limitation is all the more glaring for their principal, the President, who may be subject to impeachment proceedings for entering into any agreement which her political opponents as well as opponents of the peace process may portray as “culpable violations of the constitution.”[37]

Still, the Mindanao Peace Process is faced with the fact that intra-constitutional options has failed and will continue to fail.

Fortunately, it may not be necessary to limit the options to those that are constitutional and unconstitutional. There is a third option which may insulate the GRP panel and their principal from the charge of violating the constitution and from any judicial or legal processes that may arise therefrom. At the same time, it will unshackle them from a constitutional straight jacket in resolving the conflict in their negotiations with the MILF.

In several of its decisions, the Philippine Supreme Court has consistently held the distinctions between unconstitutional and extra-constitutional acts. The former are justiciable and may be subject to legal proceedings; the latter are not. Extra-constitutional questions are those that are primarily political questions and better left to the people in the exercise of their sovereign will. [38] Through this line of cases, the Court maintained that political questions do not fall in the realm of unconstitutional acts.

Given the role which past and present Philippine constitutions played in the roots of the Mindanao conflict, this option may yet untangle the Gordian know of resolving a conflict through parameters imposed by the very same document – the Constitution – that contributed to the conflict.

Deconstructing or at least re-examining the underlying premises of Philippine constitution and nation-state, may shed light, may yet transform it into an instrument to correct the historical injustice and thereby contribute to the peaceful resolution of the Mindanao conflict rather than an obstacle.

As to what the form or shape an extra-constitutional option would be appropriate, that is for the negotiating parties to determine. At this stage of the peace process, it suffices that the parties are freed from the constitutional straightjacket as they seek to explore possible solutions to the Mindanao conflict.

[1] Joint Statement of the GRP-MILF Peace Panels, December 23, 2004, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
[2] Joint Statement of the GRP-MILF Peace Panels, May 4, 2006, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
[3] See President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s 2005 State of the Nation Address, available at http://www.news.ops.gov.ph/sona2005.htm.
[4] See Press Statement of the Philippine Information Agency dated September 15, 2006, available at http://www.pia.gov.ph/?m=12&sec=reader&rp=5&fi=p060915.htm&no=44&date=.
[5] See Press Statement of the MILF dated September 18, 2006, available at http://www.luwaran.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=49.
[6] Maulana Alonto, Breakdown of Negotiations: Will It Result in a Break-Up?,available at http://www.luwaran.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=48.
[7] Although the breakdown of the September talks can be ascribed to constitutional proceduralism as the source of the dispute, the present constitution impacts the negotiations in a more substantive manner. For example, the recognition of ownership over ancestral domain under the constitution is limited to lands and not resources. See the main, separate, and dissenting opinions in the Supreme Court case of Isagani Cruz vs. DENR, G.R. No. 135385. December 6, 2000.
[8] 1987 Constitution, Article XVII, Secs. 1 and 2.
[9] Ibid.
[10] President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Executive Order No. 453, Sec. 1, August 19, 2005.
[11] Ibid, Sec. 8.
[12] House Resolution No. 197 (formerly 1450).
[13] Philippine Daily Inquirer, Senate Readies to Fierce Battle vs. House Over Charter Change, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view_article.php?article_id=29812
[14] Philippine Daily Inquirer, Arroyo Backs Off From Charter Change, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view_article.php?article_id=38260
[15] Lambino vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 174153, October 25, 2006.
[16] An extensive discussion of the nature as organic acts of President McKinley’s Instructions and the Philippine Bill of 1902 is found in the decision of the Supreme Court in United States vs. H.N. Bull, 15 Philippine Reports 7.
[17] Soliman M. Santos, Evolution of the Armed Conflict on the Moro Front, Background Paper for the 2005 Philippine Human Development Report, p. 1.
[18] For a listing of the delegates to the Malolos Convention, see Constantino G. Jaraula, Constitution of the Philippines and Basic Documents (Mindanao Editorial and Printing Services, 1997), p. 496.
[19] Cesar Adib Majul, Muslims in the Philippines (University of the Philipines Press, 1999), pp. 371.
[20] Ruurdje Laarhoven, Triumph of Moro Diplomacy, New Day Publishers, 1989 (p. xvi).
[21] For an account of Rajah Buisan’s exhortation to the Leyte datus, see Cesar Adib Majul, op. cit., pp. 132-133, citing H.V. Dela Costa, A Spanish Jesuit Among the Maguindanaus, Proceedings of the International Conference of Scholars, November 25-30, 1960, Manila, The Philippine Historical Association (pp. 78-80).
[22] Ibid., p. 370.
[23] Thus, by the time the Americans took over from Spain, Jacob Shurman, the president of the First Philippines Commission, observed that there are “two entirely different social and political conditions” in the archipelago, that of the Filipinos and the Moros. The commission was formed to study what the U.S. government should do with the Philippines islands after it took over from Spain. See Jacob G. Shurman, The Philippines, 9 Yale Law Journal 222, October 1899-July 1900.
[24] Supra, note 16.
[25] E.g. 1921, 1924, and 1935 Declarations of Moro leaders.
[26] Supra, note 18.
[27] Peter Kreuzer and Mirjam Weiberg, Framing Violence: Nation and State-Building, PRIF Reports No. 72, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (2005), p. ii.
[28] UNDP, 2005 Philippine Development Report, Human Development Network (Manila, 2005), p. 29.
[29] See the original Public Land Law of 1903 (Act No. 926, as amended by Act Nos. 2874, 3517, and C.A. No. 141)
[30] Manuel L. Quezon III, Repulsion and Colonisation, Today Newspaper, April 28, 1996. Also available at http://www.quezon.ph/thecolumn.php?which=23.
[31] President Manuel L. Quezon, cited in Repulsion and Colonisation, supra.
[32] For accounts of the Ilaga and their correlation to the founding of Moro liberation fronts, see e.g. Salah Jubair, A Nation Under Endless Tyranny, and Thomas McKenna, Muslim Rulers and Rebels, Anvil Publishing (Manila, 2002).
[33] The preamble of the FPA states that the parties “affirm the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines”. At the end of the agreement, it also states “any conflict in the interpretation of the agreement shall be resolved in the light of the Philippine Constitution and existing laws”. (Par. 153, FPA)
[34] Report of the Secretary General on the Question of Muslims in Southern Philippines, Submitted to the 33rd Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, Baku, Azerbaijan, June 19-21, 2006.
[35] GRP Report on the Status of Implementation of the !996 GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement.
[36] Par. A(2) GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement of 2001.
[37] 1987 Constitution, Article XI, Sec. 2.
[38] Estrada vs. Distrito, G.R. No. 1467105, March 2, 2001; Lozano vs. Aquino G.R. No. 73748, May 22, 1986.