BAGUIO CITY: After losing his own brother to the rebellion in Basilan province, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat called for swift justice for the 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) who were brutally killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
He urged everyone though to “take the high road” and maintain their support and respect for a lasting peace in Mindanao through the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The terms in laying down the armaments of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members were signed in Malaysia yesterday.
Baguilat revealed that he initially thought of calling for a strong military response when the carnage happened on January 25, knowing that 13 of the PNP-SAF men came from the Cordillera region.
“But then I remembered my brother, Capt. Winston Baguilat, who died in 1998 in the fields of Basilan, killed probably by a Muslim insurgent’s bullet. I felt grief. I told myself that if I could make a difference someday, I would rather take the tougher road to lasting peace than a knee jerk call for total war,” he said.
Although admitting that a number of legislators had dramatically turned pessimistic on the passage of the BBL following the massacre, Baguilat said the peace process should continue and that investigators should ensure that the government and MILF officers involved in the botched operation be made accountable.
“If the MILF truly wants to have the BBL passed in Congress, then it should show its sincerity by policing its ranks and hunting down the extremists,” he added.
Baguilat said it was emotionally difficult for him to stay true to the call for peace considering that Cordillerans were among those who were mercilessly killed during the fierce battle.
“Cordillerans, thousands of miles away, died for the country. They are among the fiercest warriors of the country and recruited to the special forces because of their skills in jungle warfare. Cordillerans are really paying the ultimate sacrifice to maintain peace and order,” he also said.
The Cordilleran PNP-SAF members who were killed-in-battle were brought to their hometowns on Saturday following a necrological service given by their comrades, relatives and President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
“I believe the braver thing to do now is to pray and persevere and believe, still, in the vision of peace,” said Baguilat.