Manila Bulletin – Marcos dedicates substitute bill on BBL to fallen 44SAF troopers

By Hannah Torregoza | Manila Bulletin

ManilaBulletinOnlineSenator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., dedicated his version of the proposed Bangsamoro basic law (BBL) in honor of the sacrifices of the fallen 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers “who died in the name of peace for Mindanao.”

“They choose the path of peace. And so shall we. Our heroes died for peace, and we honor them because a country without heroes is a country without a soul,” Marcos said during his sponsorship speech on Senate Bill No. 2894 which he entitled “Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.”

Marcos is head of the Senate committee on local government which extensively tackled the Malacanang’s proposed version of the Bangsamoro measure.
The senator said he exerted great effort and consulted with as many people as he can to correct the flaws of the original draft of the proposed law when he crafted his version of the bill meant to achieve lasting peace in conflict-stricken Mindanao.

“Our heroes are best honored with deeds, not words, and there can be no greater honor than to finish the task for which they gave their lives, because in honoring our heroes, we honor the Philippines, and all its diverse people,” said Marcos.

The so-called SAF 44 heroes were killed in a covert operation last Jan. 25 to capture international terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir, also known as “Marwan.” Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has a standing peace agreement with the government, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and other private armed groups (PAGs), admitted responsibility on the carnage.

The Senate committee on public order, chaired by Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares, conducted its own investigation into the controversy and eventually released a committee report finding President Aquino ultimately responsible for the operation.

In drafting his own version, Marcos said he is all for an “inclusive” BBL and one that fosters long-term peace.

“Unfortunately, the government’s peace agreement is based generated fears and suspicion when government negotiators dealt solely with the MILF to the exclusion of other stakeholders,” he pointed out.

What made matters worse, he said, is the participation of Malaysia in the peace talks as facilitator and moderator since “it is not a disinterested party.”
Marcos said his version protects the country’s national interest and reserves to the national government its powers enshrined under our constitution.

“The basic law addresses the first and most important prerequisite to peace – the definitive end to armed conflict – by providing an efficient, verifiable program of disarmament and demobilization, overseen by an independent monitoring body, and providing the needed financial and social assistance to former fighters to become peaceful and productive members of society,” he stressed.

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