MANILA — As the nation continue to mourn the deaths in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, Muslim groups across the country expressed their sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who have fallen, especially the members of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force.
At the same time, they underscored that calling for justice for those who were killed should come hand in hand with the quest for permanent peace.
“Misencounter like this that caused deaths (on both sides) is certainly unfortunate,” Young Moro Professionals Network (YMPN) Chair Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman said while stressing that the gains in the long-journey of the peace process should not be stalled.
“We appeal to authorities to ensure accountability and justice for those involved in the misencounter, at the same time, pursue the realization of long-term peace in Mindanao through the BBL, which is supported by many Filipinos, across religious and ethnic backgrounds,” she added.
Datu Alexander Mama-o, president of the Filipino Alliance for Integrity and Reform (FAIR Movement-Philippines) pointed out that “Muslims in the country share sympathy and sadness as a result of the unfortunate incident. But Muslims should not be generally stereotyped as pro-violence. The context of the police operation in that area should be understood and facts of the incident should come out.”
Mama-o cited that the executive branch of government must ensure “accountability and justice to be exacted from the incident”, but said that “the efforts of our lawmakers in the review and passage of the BBL should also continue.” He said that this incident should “strengthen the Filipino people’s collective resolve for peace, not war and divisions.”
“We call on the Congress not to delay the passage of the BBL and we call on the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to remain steadfast in the peace process despite this temporary setback,” said by the Kalilintad Development Foundation Inc. Executive Director Moidjoddin Talusob and member Esmael Abdula on Tuesday.
Civil Society Organizations for Basilan, Sulu & Tawi-Tawi (BaSulTa) Network signed a joint statement on Tuesday that shared the same sympathy and call for justice for the bereaved families. They underscored, however, that such incident “illustrates the necessity and imperative for intensifying our efforts and noble quest for peace.”
The CSOs BASULTA network expressed concern to some lawmakers who withdrew sponsorship or support on the BBL, due to the incident. “The reactions of some sectors particularly from our lawmakers created doubts and pessimism in the minds of peace advocates in Mindanao. We are afraid that it will hamper or delay the enactment of the BBL in Congress.”
Among others, the signatories to the statement included Benhar Usman, director of BaSulTa Contact Group; Joel Zanoria, Interfaith Council of Leaders; Kalmie Aduhasad of Tumikang Sama- Sama Inc.; and Virginia Tahir of Bangsamoro Women.
On her part, Anak Mindanao Party-list Representative Djalia Hataman shared that “As the way to peace is again challenged by the recent incident in Maguindanao, we pray for the truth, for justice, for mercy on the souls of those who perished and strength and guidance for us left behind. Many pursue different angles on the incident, may we pursue ever more diligently and passionately the way to peace.”