Nograles: MILF must show ability to govern

THE HOUSE ad hoc committee hearing the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law has decided to continue its deliberations, Davao City Congressman Karlo B. Nograles revealed yesterday.

A member of the BBL ad hoc body, Nograles said they also agreed to hold the vote on February 17. “But we condemn in the strongest sense the killing of our police personnel in Maguindanao and we will be calling a congressional inquiry on the January 25 incident,” he said.

Nograles said as a sign of good faith, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which already admitted participation in the incident, must surrender those responsible for the deaths of at least 44 commandos from the police Special Action Force (SAF). “This is a test case for the BBL. If under our present system we cannot serve justice, how can we be assured that the Philippine justice system will work once the BBL is passed?”

The two-term Davao congressman said “this is a question of trust, which is the underlying principle that must govern the BBL.”

Nograles also said the MILF leadership should disarm and take immediate custody of their men who were involved in the alleged misencounter. He said the move would show MILF’s supposed commitment to pursue the final stage of the peace process.

“This the chance for the MILF leadership to prove that they are capable of governance. They have to show that they are capable of repulsing lawlessness. They have to convince the people and Congress that their intention in pushing for the quick passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is to bring peace in Mindanao and not just create a territory where law and order doesn’t exist,” Nograles said.

Nograles said their committee has demanded “a full report from the police and the military about the circumstances related to the tragedy.” The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were given a February 2 deadline.

“I cannot predict what will happen on February 2 when we receive the full report from the PNP and the AFP. The sentiment of the House might change,” Nograles cautioned. “The issue here is justice. How will justice be served for the SAF members who were senselessly killed.”

Nograles said the committe is also weighing the sentiments of the families whose members were mercilessly gunned down. “We cannot just sweep this under the rug. Those responsible for the killing must be brought to justice. They must have their day in court,” the congressman-lawyer emphasized.

According to Nograles, the MILF should also explain why known terrorists are supposedly being given refuge in areas it controlled. He said these prompted suspicions that some MILF commanders are providing safe haven for terrorists.

“This could be the reason why the SAF did not coordinate their operation to the MILF. They fear that their operation will be burnt out because of the impression that the MILF are actually providing them protection,” Nograles said.

Nograles nevertheless clarified that the incident in Mamasapano should not dampen efforts to seal the government’s peace deal with the MILF through the enactment of the BBL.

“Personally I want this peace agreement to be finalized as soon as possible. I just wish however that the MILF would be able to show us that they are capable of leading the Bangsamoro people towards an era of peace and prosperity. The MILF should not squander this opportunity to show to the whole world that they are ready to govern,” Nograles said.

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