MANILA – Senators have condemned the ‘unfortunate and unwarranted’ encounter between the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, resulting in the death of nearly 50 members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF).
”I condemn the unfortunate and unwarranted encounter between the members of our Philippine National Police and the Muslim rebels. I sympathize with the victims and their families,” Senate President Franklin Drilon said in a press statement.
”We are at a crucial point in our history as a nation where we are in the process of creating and embedding peace in Mindanao, that is why we denounce to the strongest terms any act that poses a grave risk of thwarting every success we have made so far in the peace process,” he added.
Drilon, however, said the unfortunate incident, condemnable as it is, should not stand in the way of efforts to bring lasting and genuine peace and development in Mindanao.
”It must all the more strengthen our desire and resolve for peace,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano expressed disgust, saying the new development might affect the ongoing peace process between the Philippine government and the MILF.
”I’m disgusted about what’s happening. I really doubt if the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be passed with what happened,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano said the MILF should have not killed the policemen just because the PNP did not coordinate with the MILF when the SAF tried to arrest two Jemaah Islamiyah members.
He added that the MILF, “out of good faith,” should have presented to the government the international terrorists.
Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government which conducts hearings on the proposed BBL, also condemned the incident that forced him to suspend all the hearings in Mindanao.
“The killing of 50 policeman certainly should not have any part in the peace process. That’s horrifying,” Marcos said.
He said the killing of the 50 SAF has no part in the peace process.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, however, believed that suspending the BBL hearings in Mindanao is counter-productive.
”What happened recently in Mindanao is still a matter of confusion. We don’t even know exactly what happened there and it would be precipitate to suspend the hearings,” Santiago said.
Senator Grace Poe said she is planning to file a proposed Senate resolution to investigate the killing of the 50 SAF members.