Exactly one month after the Mamasapano incident, the Senate approved on Wednesday a bill creating a fact-finding body that will look into the killing at least 67 people, 44 of them Special Action Force (SAF) commandos, on January 25.
Dubbed as the Mamasapano Truth Commission, the body as proposed under Senate Bill 2603 will primarily investigate facts and circumstances surrounding the bloody encounter between the SAF troops and combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
Approving the bill were the joint Senate committees on peace, unification and reconciliation, public order and dangerous drugs and finance.
”The primary function of the commission is to be able to reconcile all the results of the different investigating bodies. There should be one reconciling body,” Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, panel chairman, told the media after the hearing.
Guingona cited the importance to speed up processes of coming up with recommendations from the fact-finding body.
Under the proposal, the Truth Commission will be composed of one chairman and two commissioners from the academe but the senator said he might consider suggestions to have former police officials and sociologists as members of the body.
During the hearing, Datu Mussolini Sinsuat Lidasan, executive director of the Al Qalam Institute for Islamic Identities and Dialogue in Southeast Asia, proposed that the commission should have a wider scope that would include alleged injustices to the Bangsamoro people.
”The goal of the BBL [Bangsamoro Basic Law] is to provide a mechanism that can address historical injustices and pave the road to reconciliation. Pursuing a [commission]that only dwells on the recent event of Mamasapano may instead deepen the wounds that it seeks to heal,” Lidasan said.
Guingona, however, said the proposal should be tackled by another commission so as not to delay resolution of the Mamasapano incident.
Merlin Magallona, former University of the Philippines (UP) dean, also suggested that the commission should primarily focus on violation of human rights and international humanitarian law if it will devote to criminal justice.
In marking the first month since the Mamasapano encounter, which coincides with commemoration of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, Vice President Jejomar Binay urged Filipinos “to remain vigilant and continue praying for the families of the 44 gallant men of the Special Action Force.”
“May our vigilance and prayers help the families attain justice and rebuild their lives,” he said in a statement also on Wednesday.
“It is but fitting that in our fight for truth and justice for the gallant 44, we turn to the 1986 EDSA Revolution and its reminder that in trying circumstances, our unity as a people—regardless of class, creed or religion—will help us overcome seemingly insurmountable odds,” the
Vice President added.
“Let us also continue to work for peace in Mindanao. But not peace at all cost. It should be a lasting and sustainable peace that is not bound to deadlines and timetables. It should be peace within the framework of our Constitution,” he said.