Treason, sedition charges vs peace negotiators junked
Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - June 9, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman has junked treason and inciting to sedition charges filed against members of the government’s peace negotiating panel and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) transition commission.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales dismissed the charges against government panel Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Teresita Quintos-Deles, Marvic Leonen and Mohagher Iqbal of the MILF for their act of drafting and pushing for congressional approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

In a six-page decision, the ombudsman upheld the October 2015 decision of the Manila City Prosecutor’s Office to have the cases filed by former Manila mayor and Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza dismissed.

Members of the government’s negotiating team and the MILF’s transition commission were charged for drafting and pushing for the passage of the BBL into a law despite its alleged violations of the Constitution.

Atienza said the respondents “encouraged armed groups in Muslim Mindanao to establish a Moro state and eventually rise publicly and tumultuously to prevent the government from freely exercising its functions in its sovereign territory.”

The Office of the Ombudsman said the complainants failed to present evidence of treason showing the respondents “levied war against the Philippine government or adhered to the enemies by giving them aid.”

Ombudsman probers said treason is a war crime that does not exist during times of peace and no proof was shown that those who drafted and pushed for the BBL uttered, wrote or held any program which instigated the public to rise against the government.

“The allegation that the text of the proposed BBL encourages the armed groups in Muslim Mindanao to eventually rise publicly and tumultuously is mere speculation,” the ombudsman said.

Ombudsman investigators added there are no words in the BBL “that can be construed as arousing and instigating others to commit sedition.”

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