MANILA -– Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. on Monday downplayed speculation that he is abandoning the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) amid public clamor seeking justice for 44 fallen Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.
”We’re not abandoning our effort to pass the proposed BBL,” Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on local government, said in a media briefing.
Marcos, however, called for confidence-building measure from both the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government to make sure the peace talk will move forward.
He said the MILF leadership can display simple gestures by identifying their comrades and commanders involved in the bloody encounter and return the arms they took from the slain SAF members.
The senator also urged the MILF to explain fully and clearly their relationship to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) that also took part in the killing of the PNP elite forces.
”If the MILF and the BIFF are two separate groups, then should we not include the BIFF in peace talk because how well we come into an agreement with MILF, if there is still an armed group still waging war against the government, then peace will never occur,” Marcos said.
Marcos said the government, in return, must also show gestures by explaining what really transpired in the supposed operation aimed at arresting Malaysian bomb maker leader Zulfikli bin Hir alias ‘Marwan’ and BIFF commander Basit Usman.
”The government must explain on their part what really transpired. The chain of command must be explained. How this happened without the knowledge of acting PNP chief deputy director general Leonardo Espina and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas,” Marcos said.
”There are many questions which remain unanswered and until all those questions answered, we cannot move forward. We have to remove all doubts and the trust be revived,” Marcos said.
Although Marcos suspended his committee’s hearings on BBL, the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes conducted on Monday its second public hearing on the constitutionality of the BBL.
Marcos stressed the importance of taking into account the results of all the investigations, including from that of Board of Inquiry, on the proposed BBL to avoid the repetition of the bloody encounter in the future.
He also supported the creation of the independent ad hoc fact-finding committee as proposed by Senator Teofisto Guingona III even as the House and the Senate conduct their respective inquiry on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
”If we feel that all the facts have been shown, then, we can use that as basis to find a way to make the BBL better. We are on the process of this peace agreement and yet this happened. It means there something wrong. We have to solve the problem and incorporate all the conclusions into the law,” Marcos said.
Marcos emphasized that the longer for the government and the MILF to explain, the longer the passage of the BBL will take.
The Senate has set to pass the BBL before the ongoing 16th Congress takes a Lenten break on March 21.