The Philippine Star - Bongbong suspends Bangsamoro law hearings

In The News
26 January 2015

By Christina Mendez |

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr ordered on Monday the temporary suspension of all discussions and hearings related to the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) at the Senate.

The move came after the bloody Sunday encounter between the police and a mixed group of members from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao.

Faced with constitutional issues and time limitations, Marcos said the bloody encounter might derail further the passage of the BBL.

"I am anxious to hear from the MILF leadership as to how we move forward from this. This MILF attack on government forces is a major obstacle to the long and lasting peace we have been working for in Muslim Mindanao," Marcos said.

Marcos was aghast over what he described as a "massacre" of at least 30 members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) in an ambush by members of the MILF in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao Sunday.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate Committee on Local Government, strongly condemned the use of violence by the MILF against government forces who were on the hunt against 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. We cannot in conscience, proceed with these hearings while a cloud of serious doubt hangs over the security situation in the south," Marcos said in a statement.

Marcos said the peace agreement cannot be legislated "under the threat of such extreme violence."

"Violence has no room in a civilized society," he added.

Reports disclosed 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 claimed 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 entered by the Philippine government with that of the MILF.

Marcos countered Al Haq's defense, 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. Hence, even without coordination, they should have exercised great patience and caution," he said.

Marcos noted that the police elite force were in the area for a legitimate operation.

"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" Marcos added.

"I am greatly saddened by this terrible event. I pray we find a way forward." Marcos added.