Justice Velasco, Concurring opinion:
Section 1. The national territory comprises the Philippine archipelago, with all the islands and waters embraced therein, and all other territories belonging to the Philippines by historic right or legal title, including the territorial sea, the air space, the subsoil, the insular shelves, and other submarine areas over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction. The waters around, between, and connecting the islands of the archipelago, regardless of their breadth and dimensions, form part of the internal waters of the Philippines.
While the Treaty of Paris is not mentioned in both the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions, its mention, so the nationalistic arguments went, being a repulsive reminder of the indignity of our colonial past, it is at once clear that the Treaty of Paris had been utilized as key reference point in the definition of the national territory.
G.R. Nos. 183591, 183752, 183893 and 183951 – THE PROVINCE OF NORTH COTABATO, duly represented by GOVERNOR JESUS SACDALAN and/or VICE-GOVERNOR EMMANUEL PIOL, for and in his own behalf, Petitioners, versus THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES PEACE PANEL ON ANCESTRAL DOMAIN (GRP), represented by SEC. RODOLFO GARCIA, ATTY. SEDFREY CANDELARIA, MARK RYAN SULLIVAN, and/or GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, JR., the latter in his capacity as the present and duly-appointed Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) or the so-called Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Respondents.
Under international law, every sovereign and independent State has the inherent right to protect from dismemberment its territorial integrity, political unity and national sovereignty. The duty to protect the territorial integrity, political unity and national sovereignty of the nation in accordance with the Constitution is not the duty alone of the Executive branch. Where the Executive branch is remiss 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.
Any peace agreement that calls for amendments to the Constitution, whatever the amendments may be, including the creation of the BJE must be subject to the constitutional and legal processes of the Philippines. The constitutional power of Congress to propose amendments to the Constitution, and the constitutional power of the people to approve or disapprove such amendments, can never be disregarded. The Executive branch cannot usurp such discretionary sovereign powers of Congress and the people, as the Executive branch did when it committed to amend the Constitution to conform to the MOA-AD. (Justice Carpio)
The MOA-AD is problematic when read in conjunction with the IPRA because it does not present any proof or specific reference that all the territories it enumerates accurately represent the ancestral domains of the Bangsamoro Homeland. The MOA-AD assumes that these territories are included in the Bangsamoro Homeland as ancestral domains, without proof or identification of native title or other claim of ownership to all the affected areas.
Under the MOA-AD, the BJE is vested with jurisdiction, powers and authority over land use, development, utilization, disposition and exploitation of natural resources within the BangsamoroHomeland. In doing so, respondents in effect surrendered to the BJE ownership and gave it full control and supervision over the exploration, development, utilization over the natural resources which belong to the State. This is in clear contravention of the Regalian Doctrine now expressed under Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution.