14 February 2015

Mamasapano incident should not hinder quest for Mindanao peace, says Palace
The Palace said lawmakers should not lose the perspective of attaining a lasting peace in Mindanao as they investigate the bloody Mamasapano clash that killed 44 SAF commandos more than two weeks ago.

The House leadership said that because of the investigation on the encounter and the effects on lawmakers’ perception about the peace process, the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) can no longer be passed in the first quarter of the year.

The BBL may stay in the back burner until late this year or early next year, it said.

In a radio interview Saturday, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda admitted that it would be hard to discuss the Bangsamoro Basic Law right now given the emphasis of Congress on the investigation on the Mamasapano incident.

“But I do hope that as we continue to seek accountability, let us not lose focus on the importance of finding a peaceful solution,” Lacierda told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

“The Mamasapano incident may provide some context to the Bangsamoro Basic Law Bill being deliberated and… siguro kailangan tingnan ito, at kung ano ang kailangan nilang ma-improve sa bill, pag-usapan, dahil mahalaga naman that we move forward.”

The ongoing inquiry must seek accountability but it also needs to look at what will happen to Mindanao in the long term, he said adding Congress has to come up with a Bangsamoro Basic Bill.

“Kung ano sa tingin nila ang kailangang pagbabago doon sa Bangsamoro Basic Law gawin po nila. Pero huwag tayong tumigil sa ating perspective, sa ating focus na kailangan tayong magkaroon ng isang just and lasting peace sa Mindanao,” he said.

Some lawmakers said the unfortunate Mamasapano incident eroded some support because of the brutality of the killings as well as the large number of casualties on the government side.

Lacierda said the MILF could regain the thrust of the people if it returns the weapons seized from the dead commandos and honor its pledge to help the government capture Basit Usman, one of the targets of the January 25 SAF operation in Maguindanao.

He added that the appearance of MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal at the Senate investigation this week was a positive development.

The Palace official also said that he doesn’t know what the MILF is doing at this time with regards to apprehending Usman but the group should show sincerity that it is a true government partner in the peace process. PND (as)