Congress will be choosing war if it dumps the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), legislators warned on Tuesday.
Sulu Rep. Tupay Loong and Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong of Lanao del Sur issued the warning in light of the suspension of deliberations on the proposed Bangsamoro measure by the House Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL.
“If we can’t pass the BBL into law, the war will continue. That’s the ultimate result, and that will be an internal security threat. I cannot think of a better solution to address this other than the BBL,” Loong said during the Ugnayan sa Batasan News Forum.
He recalled that in 2008, rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) launched attacks when the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain—which is supposed to create a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity—was thumbed down by the Supreme Court.
Loong called on the MILF, which has signed a peace deal with the government, to choose peace and help push the peace agreement forward by turning over its rogue members.
Congress stopped BBL deliberations after 44 police commandos were killed by MILF and fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25.
“The determining factor here is the situation now. It is beyond our expectation and imagination. If they are at fault, they should admit it. They should not justify it,” Loong said.
He stressed the need for a speedy investigation on the Mamasapano incident.
“If the fact finding investigation of both the House and the Senate will produce a positive result in favor of pushing the BBL forward in the soonest possible time, there is a big possibility that this peace initiative will succeed during President [Benigno] Aquino’s term. But if the investigation will be slow, we’ll run out of time,” Loong said.
Balindong, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, appealed to his fellow lawmakers to resume deliberations on the BBL measure.
“I am hearing the drumbeat of war within this August chamber because of the Mamasapano incident, even amid pending thorough investigation. There’s antipathy toward the BBL. I also felt the shock [over Mamasapano], but we should have the greater resolve to work for peace and mend fences. I call on the House to deliberate on the BBL with urgency and pass it in opportune time,” Balindong, a Muslim, said in a privilege speech on Tuesday.
“Do we stall it passage in view of Mamasapano and just wait for what eternity will bring? I know war, and I want this war to end now. I am afraid that the time will come that I will have no more tears for empathy. I am old and soon, my legs will not be able to carry me,” he added.
“Pursuing peace is a mandate not only for Muslims, but for Christians as well. Let us not equate the BBL to the Mamasapano incident. Otherwise, those who want armed struggle will have one. Let us take the chance to make peace. It is now or never,” Balindong said.
Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) also said stopping the BBL deliberations will be injurious.
“I don’t want it to be suspended because this [BBL] is the key in achieving peace. This is the fruit of the CAB [Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro]. We need to realize the CAB and its expression is the BBL. Without this, we can’t implement the CAB. It hurts us because we are the ones on the ground. We will be the one bearing the brunt of an unpleasant situation,” Hataman, who hails from Basilan, told reporters.