An administration solon warned that the massacre of 44 Special Action Force or SAF commandos by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF could well be the “end of the road” for the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which Congress has been under intense pressure to immediately approve.
Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian observed that several senators and congressmen have already withdrawn their support for the BBL, which is a prerequisite for the establishment of the Bangsamoro entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or ARMM.
“I believe that the BBL, at this point, has reached a political dead end. It is like the BBL has been declared dead-on-arrival and has no chance of being resuscitated due to the slaughter of SAF personnel by MILF elements,” Gatchalian said.
He also said the January 25 bloody clash between police force and MILF rebels can be a major stumbling block to the peace process and could permanently derail the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
“The only thing that can salvage the BBL at this point is for the MILF to issue a firm statement that the perpetrators from their ranks will be immediately turned over to the government once they are found liable by the proper investigating bodies,” Gatchalian said.
The solon added, “We want a firm assurance from the MILF leadership that there will be no cover up and they will let those responsible for the carnage face the full force of the law.”
Gatchalian, a Nationalist People’s Coalition member, emphasized that if the MILF leadership will surrender the identified suspects in these heinous acts and help arrest Filipino bomb expert Basit Usman, it will indicate that they are one with the Aquino administration in the pursuit of genuine and lasting peace.
“The MILF should fully cooperate with government’s efforts in investigating and bringing justice to the 44 slain SAF personnel. This is a test of sincerity on the part of the MILF and a test of faith in the peace process on the part of the Aquino government and the Filipino people,” he said.
Gatchalian said part of sincerity to the peace process, the MILF should return all firearms and personal effects stolen by MILF members from the dead policemen in the Mamasapano clash.
“The ball is now in the court of the MILF. First, they should immediately return the firearms and personal effects of the slain SAF commandos. Second, they should surrender to authorities their members who will be found liable for the overkill so they can be properly charged in court,” Gatchalian pointed out.
Gatchalian said he is supportive of the decision of the chair of the ad hoc committee on the draft BBL to suspend indefinitely the hearings on the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Public consultations on the BBL have covered 75 percent of the provisions in 36 hearings and five executive sessions nationwide.
House Bill 5404 recently filed by Gatchalian calls for the creation of an independent body to be called “Mamasapano Truth Commission” that will investigate the Jan. 25 incident that resulted in the massacre of 44 SAF commandos.
“The Mamasapano Commission will be responsible for investigating the preparation and implementation of the SAF operation, the real sequence of events on the ground during the incident itself, and any other occurrences material to the identification of the accountabilities and liabilities of all parties either directly or indirectly involved in the incident. In pursuit of this responsibility, the Commission shall be vested with broad investigatory powers,” Gatchalian said in his explanatory note.
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Gatchalian maintained that the President should be among those who will be summoned by the commission since there have been persistent reports that he was the one who gave the “go-signal” for the SAF operation. It was also reported that he even flew to Zamboanga on Jan. 25 reportedly to monitor the progress of the operation.
“The President should also attend the proceedings of such commission if his testimony is needed and truthfully answer the questions of the panel. He should lead by example,” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian said the twin ideals of justice and peace were in his mind when he decided to file HB 5404 to create a truly independent fact-finding commission tasked to unveil the truth behind the Mamasapano incident. (R. Burgos)