The House of Representatives has scrapped its self-imposed March deadline for passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the ad hoc committee on the BBL, on Tuesday said it will be impossible for the chamber to pass the measure since the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) failed to submit substantive reports on the Mamasapano clash in Maguindanao that killed 44 members of the PNP-Special Action Force (SAF).
“Frankly, we will not be able to meet that [March] deadline. We still have to receive reports from the PNP and the Armed Forces on the incident, as well as the OPAPP and the ARMM, by February 9. We have to discuss such reports and invite certain people here to verify the reports,” Rodriguez told reporters, referring to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“We need these reports in full because these will affect many BBL provisions,” he said.
In a news conference, Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, spokesman for the Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCF), said their 39-member bloc has agreed to call for the suspension of committee hearings on the BBL until such time that the investigation of the Philippine National Police’s Board of Inquiry (BOI) of the incident has been concluded.
“Our coalition urges the committee to suspend all deliberations until such time that the culpability of those responsible are determined. There cannot be peace without justice,” Batocabe added.
The panel asked the PNP for a copy of the organization plan of Oplan Wolverine, the top-secret mission for the pursuit of the international terrorist Marwan, as well as the post-operation report on the incident and the decommissioning pact for the MILF’s gradual turning over of arms to the government.
Muslim lawmakers, however, called on their colleagues not to use the Mamasapano incident as a deterrent to peace.
The joint statement of Muslim legislators was signed by Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong of Lanao del Sur alongside Representatives Tupay Loong of Sulu, Jim Hataman of Basilan, Bai Sandra Sema of Cotabato City, Ansaruddin Adiong of Lanao del Sur, Maryam Napil Arbison of Sulu, Zajid Mangudadatu of Maguindanao, Ruby Sahali of Tawi-Tawi, Raden Sakaluran of Sultan Kudarat and Sitti Hataman of Abante Mindanao party-list.
“As representatives of the different Muslim political constituencies, we renew our commitment of support to His Excellency, President Benigno Aquino 3rd, in his search for meaningful, lasting and sustainable peace as we also assure not only the concerned families but the entire Filipino nation of our willingness to support any investigation or measure that will give justice where it is due,” the group said.
“We condemn the incident as highly unfortunate in the wake of our determined and sustained effort to promote genuine peace, more particularly in Muslim Mindanao, through the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that intends to give flesh, essence and substance to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” the lawmakers added.