MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay on Tuesday, January 27, said a “misencounter” that resulted in the death of dozens of elite policemen underscored “the very sensitive nature” of the peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
On Sunday, at least 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) died during an operation targeting two “high value targets,” one of them alleged Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir, better known as “Marwan.” Twelve commandos were injured while the rest were accounted for.
The MILF said the clashes between its men and the police commandos happened because the PNP did not coordinate the operation with them.
“For the Vice President, this unfortunate incident underscores the very sensitive nature of the on-going efforts to achieve peace in Mindanao,” Binay’s spokesman Joey Salgado said in a statement.
The Philippine government and the MILF are in the final stages of a peace pact that would pave the way for a new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao, which the MILF will head during the transition from the current Autonomou Region of Muslim Mindanao.
The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will give extensive powers to the new regional government, is pending before both houses of Congress.
The Maguindanao clash has prompted two senators to withdraw as co-authors of the bill. Before that, some lawmakers had questioned the constitutionality of the proposed territory and powers to be given the autonomous region.
Binay, in the Tuesday statement, thus cited “the importance of proceeding with utmost caution, cognizant that peace must be achieved within the framework of our Constitution and national sovereignty.”
Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, chairperson of the Senate local government committee, meanwhile, suspended scheduled hearings for the Bangsamoro Basic Law in Mindanao following the clash.
Salgado added the death of the SAF commandos hit Binay close to home, since 6 of those dead were members of his fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. – Bea Cupin/Rappler.com