Lawmakers want full report on massacre by Monday
MANILA, Philippines–The House of Representatives will suspend all hearings on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) until authorities have provided lawmakers with a complete report on what happened in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on Jan. 25, specifically the slaughter of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the ad hoc committee tackling the proposed BBL, said his panel had given the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process until 5 p.m. Monday to submit their findings on the botched predawn raid by the SAF commandos on the hideouts of two terrorist bombers.
“The report is crucial to help members make a decision on the BBL. Without the facts, we cannot move forward. There is a strong feeling among members for justice and more sincerity on the part of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) to cooperate and return the firearms they took away from our SAF,” Rodriguez said.
He said the BBL hearing scheduled Monday would be the last if the four agencies did not submit their reports. He said his committee conducted three hearings last week but these focused solely on minor issues and not national security and defense matters, among the thorniest provisions in the draft BBL.
Still in support of BBL
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the Liberal Party remained committed to support the BBL. Nationalist People’s Coalition spokesman Rex Gatchalian said his party had not changed its position in support of the BBL.
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said the National Unity Party had no stand yet on the BBL. “I personally support it but there must be justice for the slain SAF members,” he said.
Magdalo Rep. Ashley Acedillo said he would reiterate his call for the House to suspend its BBL hearings immediately after the Senate suspended its own BBL hearings.
“This is not just a matter of discussing provisions of a bill but ultimately this is submitting yourselves to the will of the people. Should we trust them (MILF) because as it turned out that trust has been broken and there might be some element of treachery in what happened,” Acedillo said.
Surrender rebels involved
He said he disagreed with the government’s chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer’s declaration that the MILF’s signing of a decommissioning protocol in Malaysia during the national day of mourning for the SAF 44 on Friday should erase all doubts on the Moro rebels’ sincerity.
“It’s easy to commit by signing on a paper or make promises, because it will benefit the BBL, it will benefit them. But the harder thing (for the MILF) to do is to surrender the firearms, equipment uniforms and personal effects of our dead troops. The MILF should also surrender all MILF members involved in the Mamasapano massacre,” Acedillo said.
He said his group of former police and military officials turned lawmakers would oppose any plan by the administration to railroad the BBL. “We’d rather not have peace because this is not the kind of peace we want, no surrender and no justice,” he said.
Originally posted: 9:39 PM | Sunday, February 1st, 2015
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