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Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday withdrew as an author of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law as he condemned the killing of more than 40 police officers in a clash with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on Sunday.
Cayetano said the supposed lack of coordination for an operation should not be a reason to engage in a firefight.
“Ang basehan ng peace agreement is that may framework na meron tayong rule of law. Pero kung sasabihin mo lang na hindi nag-coordinate sa amin, kung mangyari kaya sa kanila yun, yung singkuwentang MILF fighters, will go into an area at may engkuwentro at mapatay sila, puwede ba nating sabihin na hindi kayo nag-coordinate na pumasok kayo?” he told reporters.
He said the incident showed the alleged lack of commitment of the MILF for peace and development in Mindanao.
“Para saan pa yung BBL kung ngayon pa lang na hindi pa nila kontrolado yung area, ang sasabihin lang nila pag may napatay na singkuwentang pulis, ay hindi nag-coordinate? So I’m withdrawing my co-authorship of the BBL and I seriously doubt kung mabubuhay pa itong peace agreement,” he said.
In March 2014, the MILF and Philippine government signed a Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro for the establishment of the new Bangsamoro political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The draft BBL will provide the framework for the establishment of the new Bangsamoro entity and contains provisions on its basic structure of government, its head, rights of the people, justice system, public order and safety, fiscal autonomy, economy and patrimony, among others.
President Benigno Aquino III personally submitted the draft Bangsamoro law to Congress leaders in September 2014, a rare show of support for a piece of legislation as usually bills emanate from the lawmakers.
Filed at the Senate last September, the bill lists Cayetano as a co-author with Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senators Vicente Sotto II, Loren Legarda, Ralph Recto, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Nancy Binay, Francis Escudero, Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino, Juan Edgardo Angara, Gregorio Honasan II, and Teofisto Guingona III. The majority leader's sister Senator Pia Cayetano is also a co-author of the proposal.
Majority Leader Cayetano said the MILF should have yielded alleged international terrorists in their community to authorities.
“Ang masakit pa dito, ang hinahabol naman ay isang international terrorist. Hindi ba dapat na out of good faith ang MILF na ang humuli dun at sila ang nag-present sa ating authorities? Meron namang P5 million na bounty on the head. Pero ang nangyari baliktad. I’m disgusted about what’s happening and I really doubt na mapapasa ito dahil sa nangyari,” he said.
Senator Grace Poe said she will file a resolution for the Senate to investigate the matter.
“Hindi birong magpadala ng mga highly-skilled officers diyan, lalong-lalo na pinagkagastusan iyan ng gobyerno, at importante sa lahat, may mga pamilya iyan. Familiar ba sila sa terrain na ‘yan? Ganiyan ba talaga ang expertise nila? Di ba walang overall coordination diyan? Sabi nila, nag-act sila separately. Parang wala namang central coordination. So gusto kong malaman—bakit nila pinursue iyan at bakit sila ang pinadala. Kasi isipin ninyo, to train one highly-skilled na operative na ganiyan, ang laki ng investment ng gobyerno diyan,” she said.
She said she would see if the incident can be included in a probe that the committee on public order, which she heads, will conduct in February.
Senate President Franklin Drilon, for his part, called on authorities to conduct a comprehensive investigation and get to the bottom of the tragedy.
“Our nation deserves an explanation as to why dozens of our brave policemen doing their duties had to die in such a manner. I condemn the unfortunate and unwarranted encounter between the members of our PNP and the Muslim rebels. I sympathize with the victims and their families,” he said in a press statement.
He said the country is at a crucial point in history as a nation as it is in the process of creating and embedding peace in Mindanao, “that is why we denounce to the strongest terms any act that poses a grave risk of thwarting every success we have made so far in the peace process.
Drilon however noted that the incident should not be allowed to stand in the way of efforts to bring lasting and genuine peace and development in Mindanao.
“It must all the more strengthen our desire and resolve for peace,” he said.
Senator Bam Aquino also called on authorities to hasten the investigation and bring to justice the perpetrators behind the incident and bring normalcy to the region.
“The public and concerned authorities must work together and combine forces to help thwart acts of terrorism in the future. We must not allow these terrorists change our way of lives as a people and as a nation,” he said. — JDS, GMA News