Reopening the Senate investigation on the January 25 Mamasapano incident may affect deliberations on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which has been renamed Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Area of Responsibility (BLBAR) in the Senate.
Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who heads the Senate Committee on Local Government, on Tuesday said any new information that may come out during resumption of the Senate probe could have an effect on their deliberations on the Bangsamoro measure.
The senator, the author of the BLBAR, however, backed the reopening of the Mamasapano inquiry, noting that the move could serve justice to the 44 police commandos mowed down in Maguindanao in January last year by suspected members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and private armed groups.
“We really need to reopen it because there seems to have been no effort from the DOJ [Department of Justice] to seriously go after those responsible for the death of the SAF [Special Actiojn Force] 44,” Marcos explained.
The Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs headed by Sen. Grace Poe came out with a draft committee report blaming President Benigno Aquino 3rd for the tragedy.
The report also recommended filing of charges against resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima, former SAF commander Getulio Napeñas and other officials.
Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile has called for plenary discussion of the draft committee report.
On Monday, the Senate Committee on Rules heaed by Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano gave the go-signal for the reopening of the hearings on the Mamasapano massacre without voiding the previous proceeding conducted by Poe’s panel.
Poe has scheduled hearings for January 25.
Not giving up
Peace Adviser Teresita Quintos-Deles said the government will continue pushing for tpassage of the Bangsamoro bill despite uncertainties and challenges.
“We should hit the ground running. These last six months are going to move fast [during which]we will face challenges,” Deles added.
“This January, we are looking forward, working hard and praying harder, that we will see the passage of [the]BBL when Congress resumes [sessions],” she said.
The passage of the BBL, according to her, would ease discussions during a ministerial meeting this month in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on the Tripartite Review Process (TRP) on the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front, once the strongest Muslim rebel group operating in Mindanao.
“The House leadership is hopeful that they will be able to muster a quorum and finish the process. This is a message that we should not give up hope and we need to keep pushing for the completion of the most important milestone on the peace table.”
Chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said the government and MILF will remain steadfast in upholding a ceasefire in pursuit of lasting peace in southern Philippines.
“[T]he best thing about the peace process between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front [is that the]two parties have not gone back to war,” she noted.
“We are gradually transforming the lives of the people on the ground, nurturing their hopes and dreams for a better future. And we are so close to putting firmly in place the needed institutional reforms to realize meaningful autonomy and democracy in the Bangsamoro,” Ferrer said.
According to her, both peace panels will continue to collaborate in strengthening joint mechanisms and building mutual trust and confidence among and between their respective organizations.
“In rising to the tasks before us, we have fortified our confidence in the process. [W]e shall continue to carry on in order to get to our destination sooner than later,” Ferrer said.