DEEPLY worried that Congress may scuttle the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) because of the Mamasapano tragedy that left 44 police commandos dead, Malacañang on Saturday appealed to lawmakers to pass the measure which it said will be the key to peace in Mindanao.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the death of the Special Action Force (SAF) commandos will be in vain if the Bangsamoro bill is not passed.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Friday night also urged legislators to “fight for peace” by continuing their deliberations on the proposed law that seeks to establish a Bangsamoro region.
“Our plea to our legislators is that this is our time to find a better way. The peace agreement has been signed. The Bangsamoro Basic Law is in your hands. Deliberate and let’s find a way. Let’s not forestall the passage of an instrument that could contribute to lasting peace in Mindanao,” Lacierda stressed.
“We need peace. The sacrifice of our SAF troops [of giving up their lives]will be wasted if we won’t have peace in Mindanao. I am certain that the legislators know in their hearts that there’s a need for us to come up with an agreement and a law that will create a viable institution in Mindanao and pave the way for peace and development,” he said in a radio interview.
“Certainly, the Mamasapano incident has created an effect on the deliberations to the Bangsamoro Basic Law. But, as the President said, we cannot lose focus on our fight for peace. It is important for us that we discuss the Bangsamoro Basic Law because this is our chance for peace,” he added.
The Senate and the House of Representatives are considering shelving BBL discussions because of the brutal death of the 44 elite police forces.
“There are people who are out to derail the peace agreement, and so we should make sure that the SAF commandos did not die in vain,” Lacierda said.
Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. had proposed a joint congressional probe of the Mamasapano incident but Senate President Franklin Drilon has yet to consult senator about the proposal.
While waiting for the Senate’s decision, Belmonte said the House will push through with its own inquiry into the case.
“We will go ahead with our hearing on Wednesday next week,” Belmonte told reporters.
Belmonte was referring to the probe to be conducted by the House committee on public order and safety scheduled hearing on Feb. 11. The panel has invited resigned Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima to testify and shed light on the operation.
The panel, headed by Negros Occidental Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer, will ask Purisima to disclose his participation in the operation to get two top terrorists.
The panel also invited Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero.