Get SAF 44 killers before BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) passage | World Defense

Get SAF 44 killers before BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) passage


Apr 3, 2015
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MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers are demanding the arrest of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters involved in the killing of 44 policemen in Mamasapano before the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the 75-member ad hoc committee in the House of Representatives deliberating on the BBL, prodded the Department of Justice (DOJ) to speed up its investigation and file charges against the MILF guerrillas as the Aquino administration wants the draft law passed in June.

“You cannot just have peace if justice will not be served,” Rodriguez said over dzBB radio yesterday.

He noted that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has asked for an additional two weeks from April 2 to finish her report and prosecute the alleged perpetrators.

While the Senate and the Board of Inquiry of the Philippine National Police have completed their respective probes and submitted their findings, Rodriguez stressed that the DOJ’s action is crucial.

“Ultimately, the accountability of any person for any crime would depend on what DOJ sees,” Rodriguez said.

The ad hoc panel suspended its deliberations on the BBL following public outrage over the involvement of the MILF in the killing of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) policemen in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25

The BBL was drafted under the peace agreement between the MILF and the government. The proposed law seeks to create a new autonomous region in Mindanao led by the MILF.

The committee is scheduled to resume deliberations on April 20 after President Aquino pushed House leaders to pass the BBL during a meeting in Malacañang towards the end of February without “diluting it too much.”

Rodriguez said the prosecution of those involved in the killing of the 44 policemen would greatly boost the chances of House members voting for the BBL, but not after removing its unconstitutional provisions.

He also warned the MILF against blocking the arrest even as he asked the group to surrender its fighters involved in the killings.

Rodriguez said the MILF guerrillas are also Filipinos under the jurisdiction of the country’s justice system.

He noted pronouncements from the MILF that it will not surrender its men involved in the incident.

“Therefore we’re going to make sure that there will be an implementation of the arrest. They (MILF) have to follow the warrant of arrest. And they already know that the government is going to implement it. There’s no more coordination. They’ll be run over if that’s needed. There is no compromise when the case is already filed,” Rodriguez said.

He said the government would be seen as weak if it cannot enforce its warrants of arrest against the suspects.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez hit the DOJ for its slow action on the case, pointing out that even the MILF has finished its probe.

“So our question is has anything been done at all? Can the widows or kin of the SAF 44 still expect justice for the slaughter of their husbands, sons or brothers?” Romualdez remarked.

He said the MILF leadership has repeatedly declared it will not surrender the killers, therefore it knows who the gunmen are.

“But despite this total disregard of the law, the government would not even demand the surrender of the killers. Adding insult to injury is the fact that instead of ensuring justice for the SAF 44, the government is already pushing heaven and earth for the passage of the proposed BBL untouched. So whose side is the government on, the MILF or the Filipino people?” he asked.