MILF prodded to surrender SAF killers

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The Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which has been declared “comatose” by some lawmakers may be resuscitated if the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will surrender the rebels who mowed down 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela said on Sunday.

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“I believe that the BBL, at this point, has reached a political dead end. It is like the BBL has been declared dead on arrival and has no chance of being resuscitated due to the slaughter of SAF personnel by MILF elements,” the lawmaker said, noting that several lawmakers have withdrawn their support for the measure.

“The only thing that can salvage the BBL at this point is for the MILF to issue a firm statement that the perpetrators from their ranks will be immediately turned over to the government once they are found liable by the proper investigating bodies,” he said.

Congress had suspended hearings on the BBL while awaiting results of the investigations conducted by police and other panels into the massacre of policemen on January 25.

The clash in Mamasapano, Gatchalian said could permanently derail the passage of the BBL.

“We want a firm assurance from the MILF leadership that there will be no cover up and they will let those responsible for the carnage face the full force of the law,” he added.

The lawmaker said the MILF should also return the firearms seized from the fallen police commandos to show its sincerity to pursue the peace process.

Mohagher Iqbal, head of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), earlier assured the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs headed by Sen. Grace Poe that the MILF will return the firearms and the policemen’s personal belongings.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte admitted it will be hard to get support for the BBL because of the Mamasapano massacre.

“It is very difficult to say how many will support it [at this point], but one thing is for sure: the support for it has been somewhat eroded by the [Maguindanao] incident. What happened needs to be explained to us. However, we have to face that if we leave it [peace agreement with MILF]alone, incidents like this will continue to happen,” Belmonte earlier said.

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