The Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) shares the collective shock and grief of the nation in the wake of the deadly confrontation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that claimed the lives of Moro brothers and more than 50 members of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police. We express our deepest condolences to families who lost a husband, a son, a father or a brother in this bloody incident.
There is no question that this tragedy is adversely affecting the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Already, some members of Congress and the Senate, where the bill on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is pending for enactment into law, have either withdrawn support for the bill or called for the suspension of the legislative process for its enactment.
Understandably, public reaction is swift in raising doubts about the reliability of the MILF as a partner for peace. On the other hand, the MILF while expressing deep regret raised the failure of the SAF to coordinate its operations with the ceasefire mechanisms which when done could have averted the bloody confrontation.
It is without doubt that apart from the precious lives lost and injured, the public trust and support of the GPH-MILF peace process— an indispensable element in peacefully resolving the Mindanao conflict— is a casualty in this unfortunate incident.
The peace process seeks to avert violent incidents by reconfiguring relations and reforming public policies towards creating an environment where justice and peace prevails.
IAG therefore calls the GPH and the MILF to exert every effort to put the peace process back on track the soonest possible.
Yet, general statements unmatched by concrete actions will fall short in restoring the eroding public trust of the peace process. IAG thus calls for the following concrete actions:
- For the Philippine government to conduct an independent and impartial investigation on the circumstances that led to the bloody confrontation, identify quarters and personalities who committed criminal acts, lapses in judgment and/ or violation of rules and policies and institute criminal and administrative charges against responsible personalities.
- For the MILF to conduct its internal investigation, ascertain the facts in an objective manner and when warranted impose punitive actions against their members who violated existing laws, rules and protocols.
- For the GPH and the MILF to institute confidence-building measures not only to rebuild their partnership for peace but more importantly to restore public confidence in the peace roadmap. Toward this end, the parties must show concrete results in the short-term out of the political and security reforms under the roadmap that include but not limited to tangible progress in entrenching the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in the BBL and in decommissioning MILF forces.
IAG will never waver in its commitment and support to the peace process and in challenging parties and stakeholders to responsibly fulfill their obligations under the peace roadmap.
January 27, 2015, Cotabato City