We have been advising both sides to undertake confidence-building measures in the face of the Mamasapano incident. And the reason we have done this is that it is the people, the citizenry, who that have lost faith not only in some of the individuals involved but also in the entire peace process.
And that is why I have called for several steps to be taken as a confidence-building measure to restore the trust of the public in the peace process. And that is my main concern---is that the peace process must continue; the peace process must in fact at some point come to a conclusion wherein we find the true and lasting peace for Muslim Mindanao.
However, there are disturbing reports coming back. The first item as a confidence-building measure that was suggested was the return of the firearms and the equipment of the 44 policemen that were killed. It took one month for the MILF to finally return 16 of the weapons that were taken from our policemen.
Of those 16, 14 were cannibalized. The report that we are getting is that the parts were taken from the weapons and they were changed with inferior parts. The point is, that what is supposed to be a confidence-building measure and an act of good faith has turned into the precise opposite. And this is a classic case of adding insult to injury. In this case, adding insult to death.
Then, there is the declaration that the commanders that were involved in Mamasapano are not going to be identified or turned over and it will be an internal matter in the MILF. Again, this does not inspire confidence in the public.
And the promise of Chairman Iqbal here in the previous hearing is that the MILF will assist in the identification and the finding of Usman. We have not seen any concrete measures.
And finally, the last is the clarification of precisely what is the relationship between the MILF and the BIFF. Blanket denials will not suffice. We need to do more.
And that is why I’m taking this opportunity: Chairman Iqbal, take it as a piece of advice. I implore you, for the sake of the peace process, for the peace process to once again regain the trust of the people, that we have to do better in terms of those confidence building measures.
You must communicate to the leadership of the MILF that people are waiting for these trust building measures, these confidence-building measures. And when they are partial, they are delayed, and they do not seem to be done in good faith, that is where we will have our problem.
My positioning has always been whatever it takes we must continue the peace process. The peace process must come to a definitive end wherein we can say there is true and lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao. Para nyo nang awa sa ating peace process. If we care that much for the peace process, I implore you to advice the MILF leadership to do better in terms of these trust building measures so that we can move forward in the peace process. Natigil tayo dito e. And we have lost the trust and confidence of the public.
And so it an advice and a fervent request on my part for Chairman Iqbal, please, please try to convince the leadership of the MILF that these trust-building measures, these confidence-inspiring measures are important for us to return to the peace process.
That is just the manifestation that I would like to be able to put on record and I hope that Chairman, you take that message back to the MILF leadership. I think that you can verify that after Mamasapano, all that we have been discussing---the two of us, privately and in other venues—is how do we move forward?
This is the way to move forward Chairman, and this is the way this must be understood by the leadership of the MILF. These trust building measures—it’s just not talk---they are in fact extremely important for us to return to the process. We have been side-lined by this incident. We must return to the process. And in my view this is the way to do it.
So Chairman, that is my message to you and I hope you communicate it to the leadership of the MILF.
[Web editor's note: This article continues in another page. Click to listen to the Q&A of Sen. Bongbong during the final Hearing on the Mamasapano Incident or read the full transcript.]