COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/22 March) — The larger portion of the report deals with the allocation of responsibility to the Special Action Force (SAF), the military, and the President. It has a shorter section on the peace process, the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It does express a desire to go on with the peace process, but it is premised on lack of trust that the report has on MILF and the giving away of unacceptable concessions to the MILF and the Bangsamoro. It is on this second portion of the report I am concerned with.
- Things I wanted to see “in aid of legislation.”
a. Clarifying the concept of “chain of command.”
b. Clarifying Coordination in police operations in pursuit of criminal elements
i. In places of armed conflict
ii. In places of ceasefire
iii. In normal peaceful times
c. acquiring better knowledge on how the committees on cessation of hostilities and coordination work and why ceasefire is not effected immediately
- Things I wanted to see “in aid of prosecution.”
a. Not lumping together all Moro armed groups
b. Who did the shooting first at the “bridge” and cornfield.
c. Waiting for better evidence that MILF troops did the “murdering and robbing” and not BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) and/or PAGs (Private Armed Groups)
d. Waiting for better evidence that MILF troops were the aggressors and not the SAF
e. Acknowledgment that the gun battle was for several hours
f. That MILF suffered 18 casualties, and that civilians were also killed
g. Waiting for better evidence on the charge that the military was remiss regarding support for the SAF
h. Testimonies from Mamasapano civilians on what they saw firsthand
i. Testimonies from MILF troops regarding the battle at the cornfield.
- Given that the draft of BBL already addresses the following concerns, things I wanted to know about the Senate’s move on BBL – “in aid of legislation”:
a. What they understand and want to do with the age-old aspiration of Moros regarding self-determination
b. How they would like to realize that Moro aspiration beyond the present ARMM autonomy
c. How they intend to help politically and economically a fledgling Bangsamoro government to lead its peoples out of poverty, underdevelopment, and traditional clan politics
d. How they would consult legal luminaries who have divergent opinions on the constitutionality of some provisions of the BBL
e. How they intend to refine such BBL provisions without making Moro self-determination an empty concept.
f. If they wish to have all the Moro groups consulted, how they intend to get the separatist BIFF and the separatist Misuari faction of the MNLF to come to the negotiating table. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. PeaceTalk is open to anyone who wishes to share his/her piece on peace in Mindanao. Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI, is Archbishop of Cotabato. He was President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines from 1999 to 2003. Quevedo has repeatedly said injustice is the root of the conflict in Mindanao – injustice to the Moro identity, injustice to Moro political sovereignty; and injustice to the Moro integral development)