No more police force for Bangsamoro region
MANILA, Philippines–As a consequence of the Mamasapano debacle, the proposed autonomous Bangsamoro region will not be allowed to have its own police force.
“The Bangsamoro having their own police—there can be no such thing,” Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), told reporters on Monday.
Rodriguez said the police force with jurisdiction over the future Bangsamoro area would be placed under the control and supervision of the Philippine National Police.
The government peace panel chair, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, earlier said the PNP would retain control over some operational aspects of the Bangsamoro police, such as purchases and promotions, but the region’s chief minister would have more direct powers over the local police.
The BBL would give primary responsibility for peace and order in the Bangsamoro region to the regional government in coordination with the national government.
Section 2 of Article XI of the draft BBL provides for the establishment of a Bangsamoro police service that will be part of the PNP.
The proposed Bangsamoro police will be supervised by a Bangsamoro Police Board, which will be part of the National Police Commission.
There is nothing in the draft BBL that says the Bangsamoro will have its own police force.
But Rodriguez said his committee would review the public order and safety provisions of the draft BBL on top of a plan to strike down its “unconstitutional provisions.”
Among the planned changes is to delete provisions creating autonomous versions of the Commissions on Audit, Civil Service, and Elections, and the Office of the Ombudsman.
Rodriguez acknowledged that the Jan. 25 clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, in which 44 PNP Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) guerrillas, and five civilians were killed had complicated the passage of the BBL, with lawmakers’ support for the measure waning in recent weeks.
The BBL fleshes out a peace agreement signed by the government and the MILF in March last year.
But the Mamasapano clash, which sparked widespread public outrage, prompted calls to postpone or cancel outright the BBL deliberations, as Congress waited for the PNP to complete its investigation.
Rodriguez said the committee might still invite resource persons to shed light on the Mamasapano incident at the resumption of the congressional hearings this month.
The hearings will be held behind closed doors, he said.
“It should now be in aid of legislation, so we will invite them in executive session,” Rodriguez said.
He said the committee hoped to complete its report on the BBL by May for plenary debate. He said the House might need special sessions to pass the BBL in June.
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