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The Government of the Republic of the Philippines through their respective peace panels were scheduled to sign the

Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain. An aspect of the Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The said signing was not to materialize, court then issued a temporary restraining order. On July 23, 2008, the province of North Cotabato through Vice Governor Pinol filed a petition for mandamus and prohibition with prayer for issuance of writ of preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order invoking right to information to matters of public concern. Buy subsequent Resolutions, court ordered the consolidation of petitions. The cases were heard on oral arguments on August 15, 22 and 29. Issues: 1. Whether the petitions have become moot and academic (i) insofar as the mandamus aspect is concerned, in view of the disclosure of official copies of the final draft of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA); and (ii) insofar as the prohibition aspect involving the Local Government Units is concerned, if it is considered that consultation has become fait accompli with the finalization of the draft; 2. Whether the constitutionality and the legality of the MOA is ripe for adjudication; 3. Whether respondent Government of the Republic of the Philippines Peace Panel committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it negotiated and initiated the MOA vis--vis ISSUES Nos. 4 and 5; 4. Whether there is a violation of the people's right to information on matters of public concern (1987 Constitution, Article III, Sec. 7) under a state policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest (1987 Constitution, Article II, Sec. 28) including public consultation under Republic Act No. 7160 (LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF 1991)[;] If it is in the affirmative, whether prohibition under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is an appropriate remedy; 5. Whether by signing the MOA, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines would be BINDING itself a) to create and recognize the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) as a separate state, or a juridical, territorial or political subdivision not recognized by law;

b) to revise or amend the Constitution and existing laws to conform to the MOA; c) to concede to or recognize the claim of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for ancestral domain in violation of Republic Act No. 8371 (THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES RIGHTS ACT OF 1997), particularly Section 3(g) & Chapter VII (DELINEATION, RECOGNITION OF ANCESTRAL DOMAINS)[;] If in the affirmative, whether the Executive Branch has the authority to so bind the Government of the Republic of the Philippines; 6. Whether the inclusion/exclusion of the Province of North Cotabato, Cities of Zamboanga, Iligan and Isabela, and the Municipality of Linamon, Lanao del Norte in/from the areas covered by the projected Bangsamoro Homeland is a justiciable question; and 7. Whether desistance from signing the MOA derogates any prior valid commitments of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

Held: The main body of the MOA-AD is divided into four strands, namely, Concepts and Principles, Territory, Resources, and Governance. As the petitions involve constitutional issues which concerns public interest the Court grants the petitioners, petitioners-in-intervention and intervening respondents the requisite locus standi in keeping with the liberal stance adopted in David v. Macapagal-Arroyo. Contrary to the assertion of respondents that the non-signing of the MOA-AD and the eventual dissolution of the GRP Peace Panel mooted the present petitions, the Court finds that the present petitions provide an exception to the "moot and academic" principle in view of (a) the grave violation of the Constitution involved; (b) the exceptional character of the situation and paramount public interest; (c) the need to formulate controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public; and (d) the fact that the case is capable of repetition yet evading review. The MOA-AD is a significant part of a series of agreements necessary to carry out the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace signed by the government and the MILF back in June 2001. Hence, the present MOA-AD can be renegotiated or another one drawn up that could contain similar or significantly dissimilar provisions compared to the original. That the subject of the information sought in the present cases is a matter of public concern faces no serious challenge. In fact, respondents admit that the MOA-AD is indeed of public concern. In previous cases, the Court found that the regularity of

real estate transactions entered in the Register of Deeds, the need for adequate notice to the public of the various laws, the civil service eligibility of a public employee, the proper management of GSIS funds allegedly used to grant loans to public officials, the recovery of the Marcoses' alleged ill-gotten wealth, and the identity of party-list nominees, among others, are matters of public concern. Undoubtedly, the MOA-AD subject of the present cases is of public concern, involving as it does the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the State, which directly affects the lives of the public at large. In sum, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to carry out the pertinent consultation process, as mandated by E.O. No. 3, Republic Act No. 7160, and Republic Act No. 8371. The furtive process by which the MOA-AD was designed and crafted runs contrary to and in excess of the legal authority, and amounts to a whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary and despotic exercise thereof. It illustrates a gross evasion of positive duty and a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined. 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. The Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001 is declared contrary to law and the Constitution.