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Suspension of BBL hearings urged by admin ally party-list coalition

/ 02:04 PM February 03, 2015

MANILA, Philippines–A coalition of 39 party-list members allied with the administration called for the suspension of the congressional hearings on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) pending the results of the investigation into the clash with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that killed 44 elite cops.

The hearings should be suspended until the culpability of the groups behind the attack is determined, Ako Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe, speaking for the coalition, said in a press conference on Tuesday.

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The party-list coalition allied with the House majority also called for an impartial probe in the lower chamber.

The coalition joined several other lawmakers who wanted to suspend the hearings on the bill that seeks to implement the government peace deal with the MILF for the creation of a more politically autonomous Bangsamoro entity.

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Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. had backed the conduct of a joint hearing with the Senate for a congressional probe, instead of the formation of a truth commission composed of former magistrates being pushed by some lawmakers.

The House leader had also acknowledged that the chamber’s trust in the bill was somehow eroded, but the lower House remains supportive in passing the bill by February 25.

The passage of the BBL was rocked by the MILF’s involvement in the attack on January 25 which killed 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF).

The elite cops were then in an MILF area to serve arrest warrants on bomb experts affiliated with Jemaah Islamiyah.

But the police commandos were fired at by members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and armed elements of the MILF 105th Base Command.

Authorities had downplayed the attack by the MILF as a misencounter and a result of the lack of coordination. MILF lead peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal meanwhile said the attack by MILF was only an act of self-defense as the police commandos were in an MILF territory.

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TAGS: Ako Bicol, Bangsamoro Basic Law, congressional hearing, Mamasapano, saf44, Special Action Force
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