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SAF 44

Word from the Institute - January 2015 By Prof. Nene Pimentel

The recent incident in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that snuffed out the lives of some 44 members of the Special Action Force of the National Police is a horrible reminder that we need peace more than ever in Muslim Mindanao.

The MILF and its allies in the area of the encounter assert that the SAF contingent did not “coordinate” with the rebel groups their entry into the “forbidden land”.

But, the cops were sent on an official mission to capture a so-called international terrorist by the name of Marwan, and his cohort, a local one, known as Usman within the Republic.

In any case, whatever be the real circumstances that surrounded the incident, the thing is that it would not have happened if peace had already been established in the area.

And in hindsight, most of our people think that there is no justification for the carnage.

Thus, if the Rule of Law were to prevail in this benighted land, the culprits - both the ambushers and, at least, the surviving officers of the SAF team - must be brought before the bar of justice. Hopefully, truth will out, and those who are responsible for the bloody event will be sanctioned accordingly.

The thing is that the incident cannot just be ignored as an unfortunate wrinkle that mars the peace process which, among other things, proposes the ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law now awaiting legislative confirmation in both Houses of Congress.

The BBL might need an amendment of the Constitution. And that could take years to accomplish.

In the meantime, unless it is made clear to all concerned that the government would not tolerate a repetition of the bloody occurrence, hotheads and non-conformists in the ranks of the rebel groups could very well replicate – and escalate – lawless violence not only in the proposed Bangsamoro entity, but elsewhere in the country.

The sooner our people realize that there is no valid justification whatsoever for us to continue killing one another, the better it will be for the nation.

Since the Moros of Mindanao adhere to Islam, a “Religion of Peace”, and the majority of the leaders and the people of the country are followers of a “Religion of Love”, that is Christianity, the question is relevant: why should they use violence to attain the objectives of their faith?

There are no easy answers. But, there is no question about it: the government and rebels must sit down and talk with things over in honesty and in good faith and agree on the reasonable way to attain peace in the country. Otherwise, more Mamasapano carnages will come our way, more blood will be spilled, and more lives will be lost.