“Nasaan ang hustisya?”

Mr. President, may I take the floor to speak again on a matter of profound importance and of national interest.

Mr. President, our Fallen SAF 44 must be turning in their graves. Not only are they being denied justice; by GOVERNMENT’S OWN ACTS OF INCONSISTENCY, but we, in effect, are mocking them as well.

What am I talking about? I am talking about the quest for justice of the widows and families of our fallen SAF 44. I am talking about Gen. Alan Purisima.

Nakausap ko po kamakailan ang mga naulila at kaanak ng ating SAF 44. Sa kabila ng mga pangakong napako, pilit pa rin nilang inuunawa ang kakulangan ng ating pamahalaan. Hindi po mahalaga sa kanila ang anumang pinansyal na tulong mula sa ating gobyerno. May tiwala sila sa sarili nilang kakayahan at sa ating Panginoon na hindi sila pababayaan.

Iisa lang ang pinakamahalagang dalangin nila: “Hustisya.”

Subalit, paano nila makakamtan ang inaasam na hustisya kung ang taong responsable sa palpak na Oplan Exodus ay lantarang binibigyan ng “special treatment”? Papaano natin sila mabibigyan ng hustisya kung ang tao sa likod ng Oplan Exodus na siyang nagdala sa ating SAF 44 sa kanilang hukay ay papayagang bumalik sa kapulisan at sa posisyon ng kapangyarihan? Sa kabila ng katakut-takot na batikos mula sa taumbayan at ng mga mabibigat na akusasyon, tuloy pa rin ang kapit ni Gen. Purisima sa kapangyarihan.

Tila malakas ang kapit sa Pangulo.

Nasaan ang hustisya?

Tomorrow, former PNP Chief Alan Purisima, one of the primary planners of the bloody Mamasapano incident will return to active duty from his six month-suspension by the Ombudsman on charges of graft. How in heaven’s name can we even allow this man to remain as a Police Officer? Why can we not do the only decent thing and remove Purisima and hauling to court for leading our SAF 44 to their graves?

I was one of those who applauded our President when he went on live television on February 6 to announce that he was accepting the resignation of Gen. Purisima. Mabigat daw sa kalooban ng Pangulo na tanggapin ang pagbibitiw ni Purisima, dahil daw “mahaba ang kanilang pinagdaanan” ni Purisima, at “malaki ang naitulong (nito) sa panunumbalik sa kanyang kumpiyansa”. Kahit kailan, hindi raw po siya iniwanan ni Purisima.

Ngunit sa kabilang banda, malinaw din na inamin ng ating Pangulo na malaki ang naging papel ni Purisima sa Oplan Exodus at marami ang kanyang naiambag sa pagpaplano nito.

Kaya nga raw po, gaano man ito kasakit sa kanya, malinaw na tinanggap ng ating Pangulo ang pagbibitiw ni Purisima—“effective immediately”.

Napakalinaw po ng sinabi ng ating Pangulo noon: “AALIS SI PURISIMA SA SERBISYO” at “TINATANGGAP KO — EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, ANG RESIGNATION NI GENERAL PURISIMA”.

Eh, bakit ngayon ay naririyan pa siya? Naririyan NA NAMAN si Purisima.

Lumalabas na nag-resign pala si General Purisima bilang PNP Chief lamang! Pero, mananatili siya sa kapulisan. Hindi pala lubos ang kanyang pagbibitiw. May mga nakatagong kondisyones.

Mr. President, hindi po ba ito katawa-tawa? Nasaan ang delicadeza at ang palabra de honor? Ano na lamang ang sasabihin natin sa taumbayan? Ano ang iisipin ng mga naiwan ng ating SAF 44? Na sila ay pinaikot at nilinlang lamang ng ating pamahalaan? Alam naman natin na suspindido na si Purisima noong sila ng ating Pangulo ay nagplano ng Oplan Exodus. Suspindido na nga, nakialam pa!

Bakit ba lubhang pinoprotektahan si Gen. Purisima? Bukod sa dapat siyang ipagbitiw sa kanyang posisyon, hindi ba dapat kasuhan din si Purisima sa kanyang illegal na partisipasyon sa Oplan Exodus? Sa pagkamatay ng ating SAF 44? Ngunit ngayon, bukod sa walang kasong isinampa laban sa kanya ang ating pamahalaan, ibabalik pa siya sa serbisyo!

Why is our President holding the PNP hostage to the whims and caprices of a few? Why doesn’t our President heed the call of the people for the outright removal of Gen. Purisima from the service, and not just from his perch as PNP Chief.

Kaya pala hindi makapag-appoint ang ating Pangulo ng permanenteng PNP Chief. Tila may nakahanda palang ispesyal na plano para kay Purisima, kung kaya naman nakabinbin ang appointment ng bagong PNP Chief. This is absurd. This is unfair not only to the people and to the widows and families of our SAF 44, but more particularly to the members of our police force.

I admire our President’s fidelity to Gen. Purisima. I salute him and give him credit for standing by his man to show gratitude for his service and his loyalty.

Ang Mamasapano bloody incident at si Gen. Alan Purisima ay isyu ng sambayanan. Dahil po sa kapalpakan ng Oplan Exodus, apatnapu’t apat (44) na pulis ang nagbuwis ng kanilang buhay. Dahil dito, naapektuhan din ang ating pinag aaralan na BBL.

Napapanahon na, Mr. President, na mabigyan ng katarungan ang ating magigiting na SAF 44. Fire Purisima. Charge him in court for usurpation of authority or official functions, for violating the chain of command, for gross misconduct and negligence that needlessly cost the lives of our policemen, among other serious violations. Throw the book at him. Appoint a new permanent PNP chief.

President Aquino is not without any choice. Gen. Purisima had voluntarily resigned, and there is nothing in our civil service laws or the PNP Law that prohibits the President from permanently appointing a new Chief of the PNP, who must, as such, be able to lead with moral ascendancy and completely and effectively discharge the mandates of the office for the benefit of the PNP and its brave men and women.

There have been several discussions that the PNP can only have one 4-star general at any given time—he who occupies the position of the PNP Chief.

In the first place, however, our laws could not have been intended to tie the hands of the Chief Executive, or to hold the nation hostage, under the present circumstances. To assert otherwise would be simply to advance a position contrary to sound reason and logic.

In the second place, the PNP Law clearly provides that “the Chief of the PNP shall be appointed by the President from among the senior officers down to the rank of chief superintendent, subject to the confirmation by the Commission on Appointments”.

In any event, Congress has intended and has done its best to professionalize our police force. The PNP Law is clear that its organization should “ensure accountability and uprightness in police exercise of discretion”.

Mr. President, ang isyu ng Mamasapano massacre at ni Gen. Pursima ay hindi po usapan SA PAGITAN NG MAGKAIBIGAN lamang. Hindi po maaari na ang ating Pangulo at si Purisima lamang ang nag-uusap at nagkakasundo tungkol sa isyu ng Mamasapano massacre at ng kanyang pagbibitiw.

Ang buong sambayanan ay kasama sa usaping ito. Kinabukasan nating lahat ang nakataya dito. Mr. President, please listen to the call of the widows of our fallen SAF 44. Please heed the pleas of our people to remove Gen. Purisima from the service and to bring the killers of our fallen policemen to justice, and for their mementos and personal belongings returned to their loved ones.

Please, Mr. President, for the sake of justice. Please, Mr. President, for the sake of an enduring peace, listen to your people. Listen to your heart. Do the right thing: Remove Purisima. At the very least, genuinely abide by your clear and unequivocal decision to accept his resignation, which was supposed to be “effective immediately”—not “effective temporarily. And most importantly, file the appropriate charges against him for crimes against the people. Bring the killers of our SAF 44 to justice. Then and only then can our Fallen SAF 44 truly rest in peace.

In the face of a public outrage, our officials had lavished praise on our SAF 44 for courageously laying their lives in the line for duty. Our government was quick to promise their widows and loved ones financial and educational assistance, among other benefits, not otherwise made available to those who had likewise perished in the killing fields of Mindanao and elsewhere, while serving their country.

And so at the height of our national mourning, the brave SAF 44 were conferred the highest honors a grateful nation could bestow on those who gave up their lives beyond the call of duty.

But Mr. President, the greatest honor we can bestow on our fallen heroes is an enduring and equitable peace in Mindanao—a Mindanao that would allow our Muslim and Christian brothers and sisters, our Lumads, our IPs, and people of other faiths to live in peace and in harmony with one another. A Mindanao that leaves its past behind and looks to the future.
Mr. President, I urge the MILF to join us in our search for peace. I ask the MILF to renounce violence as an instrument of peace. I ask the MILF leadership to demonstrate sincerity in their talks with the government. I urge them to set aside generations of acrimonious relationship with our government and start anew in the spirit of mutual trust.

Countless lives have already been lost. There could be more sufferings. More could die. The pristine rivers of Mindanao have turned red from the blood that flowed from the combatants from both sides, not to mention the innocent civilians who were caught in the crossfire. I say, enough is enough.
I appeal to the MILF to make good its promise not to resort to force or violence in the event the original Bangsamoro Basic Law is amended or revised by Congress. I must remind the MILF that we are bound by our Constitution and that we honor it by adhering to its spirit and intent.
I must also remind the MILF that when the BBL was drafted, no consultations were held with other important stakeholders, such as the MNLF, the Lumads, the Indigenous people, the Sultanates, the business sector, among others. They were totally shut out of the process.

Also, numerous provisions in the BBL violate our Constitution. In my privilege speech last Wednesday, I warned, “Passing the BBL in its current form and substance would not bring us any closer to peace. It would lead us to perdition.”

My task, therefore, as Chairman of the Committee on Local Government is to ensure that our proposed law for the Bangsamoro is inclusive, and that all affected sectors of society are heard. Moreover, we have to ensure that the various provisions that run counter to our Constitution are rectified. It will not be easy. But it has to be done if we want peace in our time.

Mr. President, I am a man of peace. I abhor violence. I am willing to listen to the MILF and all those who have something relevant to say about the BBL. I will take pause and consider any or all suggestions on how best to travel the perilous road to peace. Let us work on this important legislation together, no matter how difficult it seems, how tedious and drawn-out the entire process is.

As a Filipino, I do not want any more blood to be spilled between our soldiers and the MILF. We are all Filipinos. We should welcome the clash of ideas no matter how challenging they may be, in the spirit of brotherhood. We should embrace our disagreements as a demonstration of our commitment to an equitable and enduring peace; peace in Mindanao; peace in our land.

And so, as I announced, Mr. President, I shall be preparing a substitute bill to the BBL when we resume session in July.

I appeal therefore to the MILF and to our national leaders to set aside emotion and rise above petty politics in the interest of a much nobler cost, the cost of peace. At the risk of repetition, I urge the MILF, not only its leadership but all of its commanders, to renounce war as an instrument of peace.

I challenge the MILF to demonstrate their sincerity in achieving peace by helping our Department of Justice in the speedy investigation of the Mamasapano massacre. I challenge the MILF leadership to identify and bring the killers of our SAF 44 to justice. I challenge the MILF to demonstrate that they are our partners for peace by bowing to the force of reason rather than the reason of force.
I invite the MILF to join me and the Filipino people in helping craft a document of peace that is consistent with the laws of our land; a document that will give our Muslim brothers and sisters an autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao that is inclusive and beneficial to all.

I expect a passionate and heated debate to follow. We should welcome that. I would rather that we and the MILF, and all of the armed groups, talk, talk, and talk, in the hope of agreement, than resort to violence and forever be in disagreement. War is not an option; it never is; never will be.

May the Good Lord smile upon us and may He grant us our wish for a peaceful, progressive Mindanao.

Maraming salamat po.

Thank you Mr. President.

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