Cayetano Withdraws Co-Authorship of BBL in Senate, Questions MILF Commitment

Manila Bulletin, January 28, 2015 | Go to article overview

Cayetano Withdraws Co-Authorship of BBL in Senate, Questions MILF Commitment


Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter S. Cayetano formally withdrew yesterday his co-authorship of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as he questioned the commitment of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to the rule of law and democratic process.

Cayetano's withdrawal was contained in a letter to Senate President Franklin M. Drilon. The bill is now the subject of public hearings in the Senate Committee on Local Government, headed by Sen. Ferdinand ''Bongbong'' R. Marcos Jr., and the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, headed by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago.

Cayetano's withdrawal of the proposed BBL followed the massacre of 44 special Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) members in Maguindanao province in Mindanao while on a mission to capture an international terrorist in MILF territory.

Thirteen of the Senate's 24 members co-authored the BBL measure.

"This incident endangers BBL. It might be the cause of the death of the BBL'' Cayetano said.

Cayetano explained his reason for withdrawing his co-authorship of the BBL measure:

"The basis of the agreement is to create a legal framework for peace and development by granting greater autonomy to areas under the MILF. And yet, even now when they are not yet fully in authority, the MILF has proven itself capable of justifying a massacre by simply saying that the government did not coordinate with the proper authorities. This is unacceptable," Cayetano said.

The senator added: "The MILF, by signing the Framework Agreement, committed itself to encourage a just and peaceful settlement of disputes and adhere to all international treaties and agreements binding on the central government. Assuming that splinter groups were responsible for the massacre, instead of an unqualified condemnation of these groups , the MILF central command instead berated the Philippine government for its failure to coordinate.

"If the MILF had called the attention of the government to the presence of a suspected terrorist within its areas, and even apprehended him on its own, there would have been no need for the SAF to enter the territory of the MILF not as combatants but as law enforcement agents upholding Philippine law and apprehending a suspected criminal whose presence should presumably be cause for alarm by all peace-loving citizens.

"My understanding of the Peace Agreement and the BBL is that it is an attempt to recognize the struggles of the Bangsamoro people, most of whom indeed desire lasting peace and development for their region. This desire for peace and development will only be realized if accompanied by a commitment to the rule of law and democratic processes. …

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