House leaders are hoping that a congressional probe of the Mamasapano incident will pave the way for passage of a draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Congressmen Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City and Sherwin Tugna of Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption party-list were confident that recommendations coming from lawmakers will speed up the passage of the measure.
The House will resume its investigation on April 7 and 8.
“This [Mamasapano probe] will help in the BBL passage because it will come up with recommendations for the BBL [provisions], especially concerning the role of the police and the military in the Bangsamoro,” Rodriguez, chairman of the House Ad Hoc panel on the BBL, told The Manila Times in a phone interview over the weekend.
“[The] resumption of the probe will bring more transparency in the public mind,” Tugna, the deputy majority leader, said.
Lawmakers hope to find out what really happened on January 25, 2015 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, where 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos were killed by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and members of other rebel groups.
The MILF, which signed a peace agreement with the government in 2014, has repeatedly said it will not accept a revised BBL, a bill that seeks to create a Bangsamoro Region with greater fiscal autonomy.
The House stopped deliberations on the measure shortly after the Mamasapano tragedy.
Rodriguez believes that the investigation will not delay the passage of the BBL.
“I don’t think the probe could hurt the BBL since we have been adamant from the start that in pursuing peace, there should be justice. We seek to achieve justice first so it is only fitting that the probe be conducted ahead of BBL deliberations,” he said.
Rodriguez’s panel will resume the BBL discussions on April 20.
“The anger and passion brought about by the Mamasapano incident have somewhat simmered down, and this should help us refocus on crafting the BBL for the sake of lasting peace,” he said.
But for Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop, the resumption of the probe of the Mamasapano incident will make or break the passage of the BBL.
“Hard to say if the probe will help or hurt the BBL. Prior to the Mamasapano incident, not a lot of people were aware or were interested in the BBL. You have seen in hearings that we used to have fewer people participating, and the same goes for our consultations. Not too many people are attending, until Mamasapano happened,” Acop said.
“It [BBL] would really depend on how the Mamasapano probe would urn out. If the resource persons will be sincere . . . show they are trustworthy, instead of being arrogant, then this probe could help [in the BBL’s passage]. We all know the public sentiment about this. There should be sincerity in both parties to make this agreement work,” he added.
Representatives Sitti Hataman of Anak Mindanao party-list and Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela party-list said the incident should not be used to undermine merits of the proposed BBL.
“We’ve always emphasized the Mamasapano incident must be taken separately from the BBL. The BBL should not be taken hostage by it,” Hataman said.
“This probe is for clarification of yet unanswered issues and should be appreciated independent of the BBL,” de Jesus said.