Another war has raged after the unfortunate incident in Mamasapano that claimed 67 precious Filipino lives. The firefight, this time with words as weapons, continues in the public sphere.
The battle of perceptions in media is opening the peace process to critical questions and is delaying the timeline and even threatening the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress. The BBL is the enabling law that will implement the peace agreement between the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) whose negotiations for the past 17 years is a checkered timeline of many ups and downs – Mamasapano being the latest obstacle. Overnight, the incident has eroded public trust in the peace process and reduced it into simplistic discourse where participants are resurrecting age-old stereotypes and prejudices to bolster their narrow arguments.
How can the peace process move past the tragic January 25th encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao amid the heat and noise of public opinion? An equally important question, will Congress be able to enact a BBL before another administration takes over in 2016?
The political situation, with the 2016 national elections looming large in the corner, raises concerns that the House and Senate might not be able to pass a BBL under the current administration. Whether the next presidency will be supportive of the achievements of the peace process – notably the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the draft BBL – adds bleakness to the scenario. This is where the urgency to pass the BBL comes in. But – and granting that Congress will be able to enact a BBL before 2016 – what kind of BBL would it be, and more importantly, would the MILF go for it?
About the forum
The Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG), with support from the Australian Government, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and UNICEF, partnered with Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID), Local Government Foundation (LOGODEF), Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Development Alliance (ZABIDA), Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation (PLCPD), Senate Muslim Advocates for Peace and Progress and the Harvard Kennedy School Alumni Association of the Philippines and brought together in a national forum in Makati City on March 5th, 2015 170 political leaders, opinion makers, legislators, women leaders, and members of the academe and security sector to discuss how to push the peace process post Mamasapano.
The forum hosted two panel discussions. The first panel moderated by PCID President Amina Rasul looked into the implications of the Mamasapano encounter on the peace process. Rep. Rodolfo Biazon; GPH negotiating panel chair Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer; MILF negotiating member Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga; and former AFP chief of staff and executive director of the cabinet cluster on security, justice and peace Gen. Emmanuel Bautista sat as discussants. The morning discussion capped off with the luncheon keynote by former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel.
The second panel moderated by LOGEDEF Executive Director Prof. Edmund Tayao focused on the moving forward theme of the forum. Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara; Rep. Henry Oaminal, co-vice chair of the ad hoc committee on the BBL in the House; and Dean Sedfrey Candelaria of the Ateneo Law School were the discussants. Akbayan Partylist Rep. Barry Gutierrez delivered the closing remarks.
This report weaves the highlights of the forum.
The road to peace and development in Mindanao has been a very arduous one, but the people behind the peace process – the peace panels, security establishments, legislators and Malacañang – have worked very closely to ensure that this will be smooth somehow. The widespread impression last year that the public will finally see the passage of the BBL in the first quarter of 2015 was suddenly shattered by a single event in Mamasapano. Now, the BBL is seen through the lens of very intense scrutiny. The law will have to pass, in the words of Ateneo Law Dean Candelaria, through “eye of the needle”.
As Sen. Angara noted, the Mamasapano incident came at an unfortunate time when ceasefire mechanisms were thought to be working perfectly and deliberations on the BBL in Congress were sailing smoothly. Those who have opposed the BBL from the very beginning were suddenly given ammunition to oppose even more. Yet, others completely shifted and changed paradigm from a position of support pre-Mamasapano to hostile opposition after the incident. The national election in 2016 is a curious element now in the discussions relating to Mamasapano, and some politicians are tempted to stoke populist emotions to satisfy their political agenda at the expense of the peace process.
For GPH negotiating panel chair Prof. Ferrer, the Mamasapano incident revealed how very few people know the concept of the Bangsamoro and understand the Moro struggle. There is no single narrative on the Bangsamoro, but the legitimate ones all point to the need of resolving conflicts peacefully, and in the case of the Moros in Mindanao, “righting” the wrongs of the past. This limited understanding of the Bangsamoro is compounded by Filipinos’ cynicism towards politics “that we are condemned to repeat the same mistakes all over again.”
Mamasapano also showed how parochial Filipinos are, added Prof. Ferrer. It is lamentable “how we do not appreciate the peace process within the global context of a world that is terribly enmeshed in a war – in a war with different ideologies such as ISIS and al Qaeda and other ethnic groups – and autonomy struggles growing in other parts of the world.” The Filipino public is yet to see how a peace process going on in Muslim Mindanao is situated – not isolated – within the global war against terrorism.
The Philippines is no stranger to the threat of radicalization. The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a splinter group of the MILF, was born in the aftermath of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) debacle in 2008. Post Mamasapano tragedy, the Justice Islamic Movement (JIM) another splinter group – this time of the BIFF – has emerged. The presence of such splinter groups vis-à-vis the ongoing peace track will make the implementation of ceasefire mechanisms and later, the whole normalization process, more difficult.
In the wake of Mamasapano, Sen. Angara sees the need for reforms to improve law enforcement agencies, particularly the benefits of uniformed men and women fighting for the country. The senator took exception of the 240 pesos hazard pay SAF personnel receive monthly, which he said is “a very, very sad situation.” But he called for sobriety, saying “our fallen heroes would want a return to peace and prosperity in Mamasapano and Muslim Mindanao so that their younger comrades and the younger generation will not face the same fate they did.”
A more favorable product that came out of the Mamasapano incident is the heightened public awareness on the peace process, generally, and the BBL, specifically. “Before that, it wasn’t, as if saying that Mindanao is not that important,” Senator Angara observed.
For the Senate and the House of Representatives, now is the time to take advantage of the discussions to thresh out and clarify contentious issues on the proposed BBL pending before them. Before Mamasapano broke, the Senate has already conducted a few meetings on the BBL. Now they have more on Mamasapano. What is certain at this point, Senator Angara said, is that the Senate will definitely revise the proposed BBL based on the outcome of their public hearings and the need to pass a law that will withstand constitutional challenge.
That Congress is not a rubber stamp is a view shared in the lower house. Before the suspension of deliberations on the BBL to give way to the investigation of the Mamasapano operation, the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on the BBL has conducted 43 consultations with the public and experts. Rep. Oaminal said he is optimistic the lower house can pass their version of the BBL before June 2015.
Sen. Angara, Rep. Oaminal, and Rep. Biazon – the legislators in the panel discussion – agreed that the peace process, although taking a beating from calls for retaliation to avenge the 44 Special Actions Forces (SAF) commandos who perished during the Mamasapano police operation, cannot be abandoned, and the BBL has to be passed.
Mamasapano incident aftermath
■Declaration of unconstitutionality “lock, stock and barrel”
■Erosion of trust on the part of MILF
■Birth of BIFF
■BBL passage through “eye of the needle”
■Erosion of trust on the part of GPH
■“Birth” of JIM
From the presentation of Dean Sedfrey Candelaria
The cost of war
To emphasize why the search for peace must continue, Rep. Biazon walked the audience through the costs of conflict that has been going on for the past 43 years: over 150,000 Filipinos have lost their lives – the number is still counting; a staggering P132-B spent for combat and P640-B in economic losses. The amount that has been appropriated to support combat operations could have been used to build much needed infrastructure or to better public services.
“We cannot abandon peace” is hollow rhetoric coming from someone else, but from Rep. Biazon who was engaged in life and death situation four decades ago commanding a marine battalion at war with members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), these words are too powerful. Interestingly, his MNLF opponents at that time were commanded by a certain Tupay Loong. Fast forward to 2014, both men, now members of the House of Representatives, are the ones pushing for peace.
The issue of peace in Mindanao also resonates deeply with former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista whose father, Brigadier General Teodulfo Bautista along with other 33 men was gunned down by MNLF rebels in Patikul, Sulu in 1977. The elder Bautista went to the meeting unarmed to dialogue with the rebels, but he was shot to death. Fast forward to the future, the younger Bautista would lead a decorated military career up to his appointment as the 44th chief of staff of the AFP in January 2013 serving until his retirement in July 2014. In his days as deputy chief of staff for operations, General Bautista led the formulation of the AFP internal peace and security plan “Bayanihan”, which is now the blueprint of the AFP for “winning the peace.”
Interviewed by reporters after the panel discussion, General Bautista said he was also overcome by anger and thoughts of avenging his father. “But later on, you come to realize that what kind of justice would you want to achieve? My father had advocated peace. What was the purpose of him giving up his life? Should I turn my back on that and perpetuate conflict?” The retired general was quoted as saying in a Philippine Daily Inquirer news article.
This narrative by two generals who previously served as chiefs of staff of the armed forces at different times tells how the roots of the problem have lingered through generations. The problem the senior Bautista was trying to address four decades ago was the same problem that confronted then AFP chief of staff Rep. Biazon in 1991, which continues to pester during the younger General Bautista’s days in the AFP to this day.
Coming from the battlefields and seeing firsthand the protracted effects of conflict, it is not surprising that the two former AFP chiefs of staff are appealing for sobriety and calling on all sectors to move the peace process back on track. In the words of Rep. Biazon, “we have to stop the bleeding of our country and our people.”
For Gen. Bautista, “justice is served when we give peace. Peace is the ultimate justice we can get.”
After Mamasapano: 4 scenarios
BBL deliberations stalled
Pre-conditions laid down before resumption of BBL deliberations
Should this be time-bound? (before SONA 2015)
Effect: leaves room for confidence-building
Resume BBL deliberations concurrent with Justice Track
Too much on the plate
Effect: could “color” BBL deliberations
BBL passed at all cost to meet SONA 2015
Effect: divisive; haste makes waste; could invite more vulnerabilities to constitutional infirmity and challenge “a la MOA-AD”
FAB and CAB as legacy of P-Noy; leave to next administration implementing law (BBL)
Use remaining year for effective transition
Effect: this will test patience and maturity of both parties (GPH and MILF); postpones risk of declaration of unconstitutionality of FAB/CAB/BBL (besides will MILF accept another Supreme Court judgment of unconstitutionality?)
“No one administration has a monopoly of the peace process.”
Timing is essential.
It is election year!
From the presentation of Dean Sedfrey Candelaria
The forum in Makati recognized that communication is at the heart of the problems hounding the peace process and the BBL right now. The shadow of Mamasapano is bound to follow wherever the BBL goes from here on – at the House and Senate when legislators resume deliberations on the BBL, on TV and radio and on social media.
GPH negotiating panel chair Prof. Ferrer admitted it is difficult for the public to see the complexity of the whole Mamasapano incident within the broader peace process because of the emotions raging over the death of SAF 44, but then she wondered “how much of the grief was made public and politicized.” It does not help that people have constructed their notion of heroes and villains in the incident, she added.
Dean Candelaria said it is important to “respect human condition” to allow grieving to pass in due time. He added that he is seeing a simmering down of emotions and hearing voices, little by little, going for more objective approach.
Dean Candelaria would want to see the President owning up to responsibility for the bungled Mamasapano police operation and showing humility by apologizing to the people. He said this could be a game changer at this point when everybody is grappling for answers. “If only to save the peace process perhaps we should think as a nation to help the President walk through this process. It’s very difficult, but if we go through it perhaps that is the tipping point we are waiting for,” he said.
MILF negotiating panel member Prof. Lingga pointed out the need to disaggregate the issues of BBL from that of Mamasapano’s.
“The issue on the BBL should be seen as a structural approach to solve a long standing conflict, and the issue of Mamasapano should be seen as a mishap that happened because of misjudgment by some people,” Prof. Lingga said, adding that the investigation on Mamasapano should continue on a different level.
Prof. Ferrer believes that “justice has to be sought from those accountable for the different mistakes [in the Mamasapano operation] and we have institutions and processes to help out on this.” She said she hopes the people will base their judgment on the results of the investigation “without sacrificing the bigger project of peace in Mindanao.”
ARMM Assemblyman Khadafy Mangudadatu appealed to the House of Representatives and the Senate not to use Mamasapano as political capital in the forthcoming elections. He urged the government and the MILF to work together to bring back trust in the peace process. The assemblyman from the second district of Maguindanao said the enemy of the government is the BIFF, not the MILF.
The military has launched offensive operations against the BIFF a month after the bloody Mamasapano incident. The operations are being conducted in at least four towns in Maguindanao province where members of the groups are believed to have holed up.
A key takeaway in the forum is the urgency to develop a communication plan to generate a more favorable public reception on the BBL. The peace panels admitted that the BBL is a “hard sell” at the moment but appropriate communication strategies and popular education techniques can help temper public opinion.
Peace advocate Dr. Grace Rebollos believes the peace process should be made “affordable to the people because this has always been seen as technical and high profile, being discussed only by peace panels who meet in Kuala Lumpur, far away from Mindanao.” But aside from jargon, myths and stories that have alienated Christians from the Moros – and vice versa – have to be deconstructed, if only to sift truths from false notions, to allow a fuller appreciation of the Bangsamoro people, their history, and culture.
General Bautista also asserted that correcting misconceptions is part of “righting” the wrong. “Mamasapano brought to national consciousness this issue. This is now an opportunity for us to put forward the right narrative and correct these prejudices and misconceptions,” he said.
Recognizing that revisiting the BBL in the aftermath of Mamasapano is difficult, Prof. Ferrer stressed on going back to the basics. “We need to share with the rest of the Filipino population the whole history and nature of the right to self-determination that has founded the struggle of the Bangsamoro, and the nature of the BBL that we are putting in place.” Prof. Ferrer meant revisiting the narratives of the Bangsamoro to counter misinformation with regards to the specific provisions of the proposed BBL.
The BBL and the Bangsamoro discourse need a “makeover” in the communications department.
There is a scarcity of conversation delving on the Bangsamoro narratives and how the BBL is being positioned to answer the Mindanao problem that could save the peace process from drowning in the deluge of sound bites on Mamasapano.
The peace process must be seen “in flesh.” It would help if the nation sees not just the “usual suspects” like the negotiating panels (Chair Ferrer for the GPH, MILF’s Murad, Iqbal or Jaafar) but the other faces of the MILF as well – women and children – who stand to benefit from the absence of war and conflict.
Mamasapano ignited the “us versus them” perception in media and so there is a need to tell the nation that the Bangsamoro people are Filipinos, too!
Debunking “top two trending lies”
The peace panels bemoaned that the discourse on the BBL, and the Bangsamoro, in general, is not helped by the sound bites coming from the Manila-based and highly influential media. The chair of the government peace panel in talks with the MILF pointed out what she said are the top two “trending lies” on the BBL that have come out of the media recently: that the Bangsamoro region will have its own separate police force and army, and it will receive P75 billion as “pork barrel” allocation. Ferrer said “these conclusions are derived from a basic misreading or misrepresentation of the provision” of the BBL.
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has debunked these claims – on radio, TV, and social media. In truth, Ferrer said the Bangsamoro police will not be a separate entity from the Philippine National Police (PNP). It will be set up as a regional command of the PNP, not unlike the other regional police commands in the country, including the regional police command of the present ARMM.
The BBL text on the Bangsamoro police, in Section 2, Article XI on Public Order and Safety, says:
“There is hereby created a Bangsamoro Police which shall be organized, maintained, supervised, and utilized for the primary purpose of law enforcement and maintenance of peace and order in the Bangsamoro. It shall be part of the Philippine National Police.
The Bangsamoro Police shall be professional, civilian in character, regional in scope, effective and efficient in law enforcement, fair and impartial, free from partisan political control, and accountable under the law for its actions. It shall be responsible both to the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government, and to the communities it serves.”
The BBL provides that the chief executive of the regional government will exercise operational control over the Bangsamoro police, but as Ferrer noted, “operational control and supervision over the local police, including deployment of police units within the area of jurisdiction are powers given to local chief executives under the PNP law.”
Ferrer also clarified that the Bangsamoro government will get P35 billion – not P75 billion – on its first year of operations. These funds are sourced from the annual block grant (estimated at P27 billion in 2016 or 2.4 percent of national total revenues collected for the past three years; the figure excludes the IRA of the component local government units), transition fund of P1 billion, and special development fund of P7 billion. The money will be used to fund the operation of the regional government, including salaries of its employees.
Sen. Angara believes “P75 billion” is not a big deal given that for 2014, the ARMM got P62 billion. “It’s just appropriation,” he said, but “it would be nice to see this money spent on infrastructure and badly needed services.”
Certainly, the potential of the region will not be fully realized without peace, its more than three million people will continue to languish in poverty and underdevelopment. But as Senator Angara cautioned, “the passage of the BBL does not mean automatic prosperity.” The senator noted that a peace deal (with the MNLF) was signed in 1996, but it did not result in better standards of living judging from the human development indicators in the ARMM.
Data from 2012 placed poverty incidence in the region at 55.8 percent, twice the national average. Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao were among the poorest provinces at 71.8 percent and 63.8 percent poverty incidence, respectively.
But while the BBL is not a formula for instant peace and development, “let us also count the human potential that will vanish if we return to war”, Sen. Angara said.
“Passing the BBL will not automatically result in higher standards of living, openness, and transparency… in a responsive government or peace. A lot of these are dependent on different variables, but we are creating conditions which will make these favorable. The prospect of peace appears clearer if we pass the BBL,” the senator added.
2 barometers from here on: constitutionality and acceptability
The fate of different key provisions of the BBL in the hands of 290 congressmen and 24 senators will ultimately be determined based on two questions: Is it constitutional? Is it acceptable to all?
Rep. Biazon told the forum that Congress is not a rubber stamp and there will definitely be changes in certain provisions. “If we pass this proposed BBL – and I assure you, it’s not going to be passed as it is… there are going to be – I don’t want to use the word watered-down – amendments to satisfy two concerns: the issue of constitutionality and the issue of acceptability,” he said.
Rep. Oaminal also assured that the BBL Congress will pass “will not be a watered-down version”, although there will be amendments “to conform to the Constitution. It will hopefully be a law that will pass the scrutiny of Supreme Court, free of constitutional infirmities and acceptable to all concerned.” He added that he and colleagues “can pass it soon”, have their final version of the BBL approved by plenary in June before Congress goes on recess.
The co-vice chair of the House ad hoc committee on the BBL told the forum, “Majority of us [House of Representatives] are concerned not only on police supervision and security in light of the Mamasapano, but apprehensive on the constitutionality of some of the provisions [of the BBL].”
According to Rep. Oaminal, the six contentious provisions on the BBL lawmakers in the lower house are apprehensive about have something to do with fiscal autonomy, Bangsamoro police, and other proposed Bangsamoro offices seen to impinge on powers and authorities of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), Commission on Audit (COA), the Office of the Ombudsman, Civil Service Commission (CSC), and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
In a separate interview, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, the chairman of the House ad hoc committee on the BBL, said that the committee has decided to scrap the “unconstitutional provisions” of the BBL that have something to do with the six government agencies. But this move, he clarified would not dilute the BBL. “The main fundamental of the BBL is the power sharing, political autonomy, and fiscal autonomy … that’s the most important,” he said.
But for former senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., the unconstitutionality of the BBL lies in its provision of a parliamentary form of government for the Bangsamoro region. Pimentel who authored the Local Government Code and once served as senate president pointed to the constitutional provision on the creation of autonomous regions, which says “both the executive and the legislative shall be elected by the people.”
“Meaning to say, a parliamentary form of government doesn’t conform to this because it only elects the legislative officials, not the executive. To my mind, this is the biggest obstacle the BBL has to overcome,” Sen. Pimentel said. He stressed, however, that the Muslim people deserve the BBL, and the basic law must be inclusive to accommodate the indigenous peoples.
For Rep. Oaminal, the “major provisions of the CAB are not the issue of amendments, because the way we look at it, [these] do not encroach on the Constitution.”
Sen. Angara is of the same belief as Rep. Oaminal that the Bangsamoro autonomy proposed in the BBL is well within the Constitution. Sen. Angara said he views the Bangsamoro territory as an expanded autonomous entity whose concept is asymmetry because it enjoys more powers than other local government units. “And there is room for that under the Constitution. The Constitution recognizes certain entities can enjoy certain degree of autonomy and independence from the national government without actually divorcing itself and creating a separate state.”
But could the Bangsamoro entity be a precursor to a sovereign state?
Sen. Angara said, “Yes, it’s possible. But it’s also possible that the Bangsamoro territory will choose to remain under the ambit of the Philippines. There’s nothing that would lead us to prejudge either way.”
Good BBL vs. mangled BBL
Prof. Lingga refused to engage in hypothetical scenarios when asked what happens if the BBL passed by Congress is a watered-down version, thus not acceptable to the MILF.
“That will depend upon the decision of the MILF Central Committee. But I think the general feeling within the MILF is still confidence that a good BBL will pass, with the strong support by the President and some responsible politicians. Many in Congress are still supportive of the BBL,” Prof. Lingga said.
Prof. Ferrer, on the other hand, was more forthcoming. “No BBL is better than mangled BBL because that would be repeating history, and it is stupid to repeat history,” she said.
But is there a consensus between the GPH and MILF negotiating parties on what is “mangled” BBL?
Prof. Ferrer explained: “If it will be worse than the ARMM in terms of political and fiscal autonomy, then why replace the ARMM? The threshold has to do with what is in the CAB, but that does not mean that all other details not in the CAB need not be put in the BBL, because of the fleshing out [the BBL] may provide more details, and we may say, add more inspirations over and beyond what we’ve signed in the CAB. The question is do we think the Bangsamoro people deserve this? Do we think that this is something due to them?”
These questions remind the rest of the nation that the Bangsamoro people are also Filipinos who deserve nothing less than what every other Filipino is entitled to. In the end, Ferrer said, the peace process is about changing mindsets and aiming for a good BBL toward building a just and peaceful nation. “The spirit of this process is we open our minds, we compromise, we solve the problem together.”
Prof. also pointed to the new – and more difficult – “tactical terrain” for passing the BBL brought about by the politics of the upcoming 2016 elections. She called on peace advocates “to show that there is a peace vote, that electoral future of politicians are also affected by how they actually support – or not support – the objective of pursuing the peace process.” Indeed, the issues confounding the nation in relation to Mamasapano and the peace process and the dynamics within the electoral politics of 2016 will be a challenge.
Pass the BBL mid 2015
Shorter transition period: shorter term for the BTA from the ratification of the BBL to the regular government in 2016
First elections in the Bangsamoro synchronized with the 2016 national elections
Leave enactment of the BBL to the next administration
Longer transition period
First elections in 2019
Is it time for plan B for the peace process?
Atty. Benedicto Bacani, executive director of IAG and head organizer of the forum, told Rappler’s Angela Casauay at the sidelines of the event that a plan B might be needed at this point.
"A plan B would essentially be a process that would have general acceptability; a plan B that mitigates the effects of shattered expectations. This plan B can have a potential for building a national constituency which is indispensable in sustainable peace," Bacani said.
"I've always said that we tried to really capitalize on the President's political capital here – the concept of an instant peace. Mamasapano actually exposed the weaknesses of this process – that you can't anchor it on a particular person or a particular administration. (We need a) plan B that would focus more on the process," he added.
Speaking from the lens of internal security, Gen. Bautista said he would rather not push to the future the passage of the BBL “because there are other pressing problems that we need to address like the ISIS, West Philippine Sea, calamities and disasters.”
It is this perspective that Prof. Ferrer underscored when she lamented about the parochialism of Filipinos and how the nation fails to appreciate the peace process within a bigger world of, for instance, addressing the growing threat of radicalism and terrorism. She said the Mindanao peace process is valuable because it is aimed precisely at resolving one hotspot so that the rest of the world will be able to concentrate on the other hotspots.
The global war against terrorism is a relevant agenda albeit different in context when applied domestically. Unfortunately, its application, as evident in the discourse that followed Mamasapano, is the simplistic lumping of all Muslim organizations or Muslim individuals within the “terrorist frame.”
Yet, the Mindanao problem mirrors what tends to be boilerplate roots of conflicts that continue to fuel rebellion in many parts of the world such as marginalization, depravation, isolation, and prejudice. Unless these problems are addressed, Gen. Bautista said, there is going to be continuous motivation to take up arms against the government.
Rep. Oaminal cannot overemphasize the role of the BBL in the entire peace process. Besides ensuring that what happened in Mamasapano will not happen again, the passage of the BBL will give MILF and its supporters reason to believe that the government will not set aside the CAB. The opposite scenario, Rep. Oaminal warned, could usher a new wave of Muslim fanatics with misguided belief that the government has acted in bad faith. “It is incumbent upon us to rally behind the President to remain steadfast in his desire to solve this problem,” the congressman said.