Ferrer: SAF probes should not hold BBL hostage

By Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Mar 02 2015 12:58 PM | Updated as of Mar 02 2015 09:00 PM

MANILA – The various investigations into the January 25 Mamasapano clash should not hold hostage the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer said.

Speaking to dzMM, Ferrer said it is important for the families of the slain Special Action Force (SAF) troopers to obtain justice but not at the expense of the BBL.

''Huwag naman sana ma-hostage ang usaping pangkapayapaan habang isinasagawa ang investigation,'' Ferrer said.

"Ang layunin ng BBL ay magkaroon ng isang government institution na demokratiko, representative at mas autonomous."

The passage of the BBL in Congress has been delayed in the wake of the Mamasapano carnage, which saw 44 SAF troopers killed by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters, elements of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and private armed groups.

The MILF drew the ire of some lawmakers after its fighters clashed with government forces, who were out to arrest Malaysian bomb-maker Zukifli bin Hir alias Marwan, despite the ongoing ceasefire. The Moro group, for its part, blamed lack of coordination of the police for the bloodshed.

The Mamasapano clash triggered calls for a more thorough scrutiny of the proposed Bangsamoro law, which aims to establish a new region that shall replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The House of Representatives is expected to miss its self-imposed deadline this March to pass the BBL.

The Aquino administration remains hopeful that the BBL will be passed. In case the BBL gets passed, the law will still have to be ratified in a plebiscite, after which a Bangsamoro Transition Authority will be established to prepare the new autonomous Bangsamoro region for the 2016 general elections.

Ferrer said the public must wait for the result of the Department of Justice probe which will determine who should be held liable for the deaths of the SAF troopers.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the House ad hoc committee on the BBL, said the House may only vote on the proposed law after the DOJ files a case against the MILF.

Ferrer, however, believes putting the passage of the BBL on hold for too long might sow discontent among various stakeholders, especially the Bangsamoro people.

''Kung patatagaling pa eh baka maraming mawalan ng pag-asa sa proseso. Imbis na kumonti eh dumami ang sumapi as ibang mga pwersa,'' she said.

"We might lose time, we might lose people."