Santiago: Justice first for 44 fallen police commandos before Bangsamoro law

February 2 2015 6:51 PM

Justice first for the 44 fallen police commandos before the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) can be passed.

This was how Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments, assessed the situation concerning the BBL, its passage in Congress stalled by the death of 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in the hands of Muslim insurgents in Mamasapano in Maguindanao on January 25.

“It is very correct that there should be no price for peace, except peace for justice,” Santiago said during a press conference at the Senate Monday, Feb. 2.

Santiago’s words came after Monday’s hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro, a political entity that is eyed to replace the present-day Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The proposed Bangsamoro political entity includes several towns from Lanao del Norte, a province that is not part of the present-day Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Image by Louise Elemparo)

“Unless justice is done to the families, we cannot finish the work that is sought to be finished,” Santiago said.

The discussions in the Congress on the BBL should first take a back seat to give way to the serving of justice to the loved ones left behind by the 44 SAF members killed in Maguindanao, Santiago added.

“There is no point continuing with this BBL discussion in the Congress unless we are enlightened on what exactly happened during the killing of the SAF, and more importantly, those responsible should be held under the principle of command responsibility,” she said.

Santiago welcomed the proposed Senate-led Truth Commission that will investigate the alleged “misencounter”.

The body was formed upon the recommendation of Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, chairman of the committee on peace and reconciliation.

Santiago herself said the commission would be free from “military influence.”