GMA News Online – Bongbong condemns MILF violence vs. PNP in Maguindanao, suspends BBL hearings

By Amita Legaspi | GMA News Online

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Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday condemned the use of violence by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front against forces of the Philippine National Police who were on the trail of suspected terrorists on Sunday.

Marcos, chair of the Senate committee on local government, then announced in a press statement he is suspending discussions and hearings related to the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

On Sunday, at least 30 members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) were killed in an ambush by members of the MILF in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao. The PNP personnel were on the trail of suspected international terrorists believed to be hiding inside one of the camps of the Muslim rebel group.

“I decided to suspend indefinitely all discussions and hearings related to the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law until this is clarified,” Marcos said.

“We cannot, in conscience, proceed with these hearings while a cloud of serious doubt hangs over the security situation in the south. A peace agreement cannot be legislated under the threat of such extreme violence. Violence has no room in a civilized society,” he added.

However, the hearing to be conducted by the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, headed by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, Monday morning will push through, according to the lady senator’s office.

The hearing is set to tackle the constitutional issues surrounding the proposed BBL.

Reports have it that the SAF members were sent to the area to serve warrants of arrest against Malaysian bomb maket Zulkifli bin Hir, known as “Marwan” in Barangay Tukanalipao, and Basit Usman, a Jemaah Islamiyah bomb-making expert.

Von Al Haq, vice chair for military affairs of the MILF, reportedly said the SAF team did not coordinate with the proper authorities before they entered the area. Al Haq defended the action of the MILF saying the action of the SAF was a clear violation of the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF.

Marcos disagreed with Al Haq’s statement saying that the SAF was given a legitimate mission and even without coordination, the MILF could have easily arranged to talk with the SAF.

“I condemn the use of violence by the MILF. They signed a peace agreement with the government, and therefore, the MILF is already a partner of government,” the senator said.

“Hence, even without coordination, they should have exercised great patience and caution. Those police officers were there to arrest a terrorist. They were just doing their jobs. The fact that they were not carrying loads of ammunition show that they are not there for a fight. It was not an attack on the MILF. Lethal force was clearly not necessary,” he added.

Marcos said he is anxious to hear from the MILF leadership as to how they move forward from the incident.

“This MILF attack on govt forces is a major obstacle to the long and lasting peace we have been working for in Muslim Mindanao,” he said.

“I am greatly saddened by this terrible event. I pray we find a way forward.” Marcos said.

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