The Supreme Court chief justice and several lawmakers reiterated their support to the Bangsamoro peace process in the wake of an armed encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25, which claimed several lives, including members of the Philippine National Police – Special Action Force.
In a rare public statement, SC Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno reminded the public that “a call for war and retribution should never be made lightly and should remain always a final option. Let us instead all contribute to our nation’s search for just and lasting peace by encouraging all parties to bring any conflict to the table of peace instead of the battlefields of war.”
“More violence and more deaths will not contribute to the cause of peace,” Sereno said. “To paraphrase a great civil rights leader, violence begets the very thing it seeks to destroy and adds deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Let us not add to the darkness but to the light. It is the only way that we ensure that the sacrifices of our fallen policemen would not be in vain.”
Sereno also expressed the Supreme Court’s sympathy with the families and loved ones of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force personnel involved in the tragic incident.
“We call for sobriety as we all await the full report on the investigation,” Sereno reminded the public. “During this time, we must ascertain facts to avoid confusion and acknowledge the complexities of the situation to allow for the rule of law to truly prevail.”
Senate President Franklin Drilon similarly expressed his support for Bangsamoro peace process in a statement released January 26.
“We are at a crucial point in our history as a nation where we are in the process of creating and embedding peace in Mindanao, that is why we denounce to the strongest terms any act that poses a grave risk of thwarting every success we have made so far in the peace process,” Drilon said, while calling for a comprehensive investigation into the incident.
“We should not, however, allow this unfortunate incident and the deaths of our policemen, condemnable as it is, to stand in the way of efforts to bring lasting and genuine peace and development in Mindanao,” Drilon added. “It must all the more strengthen our desire and resolve for peace.”
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles, on the other hand, assured the public that accountability will be exacted, and expressed hope that the peace process will not be affected by the tragic incident.
Ad Hoc Committee members reiterate support for peace process, vow impartiality
In the House of Representatives, several members of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro have also expressed their continued support for the peace process.
Anak Mindanao Party-list Representative Djalia Hataman said that “As the way to peace is again challenged by the recent incident in Maguindanao, we pray for the truth, for justice, for mercy on the souls of those who perished and strength and guidance for us left behind. Many pursue different angles on the incident, may we pursue ever more diligently and passionately the way to peace.”
Bai Sandra Sinsuat Sema, Representative of the first district of Maguindanao and Cotabato City, also expressed regret for the incident, “especially at a time when our collective effort towards achieving peace in the Bangsamoro Homeland is gaining significant ground.”
“I ask that the incident in Mamasapano, Maguindanao will not become a stumbling block to the Bangsamoro people’s pursuit of peace and happiness,” Sema added while assuring the public that she, along with fellow Muslim legislators, will remain objective and impartial.
Ad Hoc Committee Chariman and Cagayan de Oro representative Rufus Rodriguez has earlier said that the peace process “is the product of 17 years of negotiations, and this cannot be stopped by this occurrence.” PNA