Let’s not miss the point

3

WHILE we share the anger and sorrow of the nation for the slaughter of 44 of its elite police officers in the Mamapasano massacre, and the shameful embarrassment of many at the selfishly dismissive behavior of President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd toward important ceremonies to honor the fallen heroes and comfort their families, we must remind ourselves there is now serious work to be done.

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The heroes of Maguindanao will not have died in vain if their sacrifice leads to the lasting peace everyone wants to see in Mindanao. Their deaths, however, remind us of just how far we are from achieving that peace, despite what the Aquino administration and other backers of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would have us believe.

In a forum with journalists on Thursday at the National Press Club, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. explained his decision to suspend hearings on the BBL in his Senate committee on local government in logical, if somewhat disturbing terms. “The BBL flows from the peace treaty,” he said. “If there is fighting, there is no peace.” We cannot in good conscience proceed with the BBL if that is the case, Marcos added, until we fully understand what happened and justice can be served.

That is a sensible perspective, and sounds compassionate, too. Peace treaty or not, brutal crimes were committed against law enforcement officers and all those responsible for it must be held accountable and meted the appropriate consequences.

That applies to those who created the circumstances for the crimes to take place, as well as those who actually carried them out, and the effort to bring them to justice should take precedence over everything else.

Doing that, however, will not by itself bring peace to Mindanao, and neither will the BBL. The BBL may, indeed, be a part of the solution. But any peace that excludes any of Mindanao’s stakeholders – particularly the armed groups, which probably number in the hundreds – will not be real peace at all.

That cannot be welcome news to people whose lives have been disrupted for years because of the conflict; making them wait even a day longer for a normal, productive existence is also an injustice. But it is not a bigger injustice than tempting their hopes with a promise of peace that only exists on the paper on which it was written.

What the Mamapasano massacre may have shown us is a terrifying example of what may happen if the BBL is rushed through Congress, as the President has clearly sought to do. A repeat of last Sunday’s tragedy is a risk the country cannot afford to take, and which no other government or group has the right to ask it to take. It is encouraging that a few other legislators have also taken a stand against following the administration’s script for passage of the BBL before the Mamapasano massacre is fully understood and addressed.

That inquiry must be done as quickly as it reasonably can be while still being thorough and impartial. And it must have tangible consequences, not only for those who must be held responsible in some way, but also for the overall peace process.

What those consequences may be are unknown now, but they are likely to benefit all concerned if they are the result of an honest assessment of efforts to achieve peace in Mindanao, and sincere determination to create a just and inclusive framework to accomplish it.

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3 Comments

  1. The point is obvious. Law and order must be brought to all islands of the Philippines. First step, bring the killers to justice. Second step, Disarm and outlaw all private armies. Third step, Outlaw and confiscate all weapons larger than a pistol. Fifth step, Lock up all criminals in and out of government.

  2. agree ako kay bongbong sa ginawang nyang pagsuspinde ng hearing on the bbl. he makes sense than lolo (nG) frank and lolo sb who are bent on approving the bbl according to boy sisi’s time table. marcos even said that the muslim groups should unite so the gov’t can only talk with one group to ensure everybody is on the same page.

  3. Michael Richardson on

    The real problem is that Fundamentalist Islam is creeping across the planet, and has probably already found its way into the Philippines.

    The reason why they (muslims) want an autonomous region is because in order to spread their poison, they need a power base.

    i.e. A place where they can train Jihadi Fighters without interference from the Government

    i.e. A place where they can eventually manufacture there own weapons and explosives without the authorities poking their noses in.

    The Philippines is a Christian country, and as such is ideologically totally incompatible with Fundamental Islam. The Quran says quite explicitly “If you cannot convert them, then kill them”!

    It is time the governments of the civilized world including the Philippines recognized this and started to do whatever it takes to preserve their (non-islamic) way of life.