No Camelot at end of BBL road
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - January 28, 2015 - 12:00am

The decision by both the Senate and the House of Representatives to suspend their separate hearings on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law is the wisest either body could have made in light of Sunday's massacre of more than 60 policemen by MILF and BIFF rebels in Maguindanao. Not only were the policemen who were out to arrest two terrorists wanted by both the American and Philippine governments slaughtered in ambush, they were also desecrated and mutilated even in death.

But Congress should not stop with just suspending its hearings. It should go ahead and terminate the hearings once and for all. It is time we stop this folly and charade of trying to make peace with rebel groups who know only treachery and deceit and who never wanted peace in the first place. Besides, as most experts on the law have long warned, the proposal is patently unconstitutional.

One senator, Alan Peter Cayetano, has withdrawn his sponsorship of the proposal. Other senators should do the same. Cayetano couldn't have put it more aptly when he said "there is reason to doubt the commitment of the MILF for a framework peace and development in Mindanao. Para saan pa yung BBL kung ngayon pa lang na hindi pa nila kontrolado yung area, ang sasabihin lang nila pag may napatay na singkuwentang pulis, ay hindi nag-coordinate?" Congressmen should follow Cayetano's lead.

The treachery of the MILF is very evident in this incident. To the MILF and its BIFF cohorts, the massacre was justified. The police reportedly failed to coordinate with them in pursuing terrorists inside their territory. A massacre and mutilation over lack of coordination?  And what territory? This is the Republic of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, in the exercise of its lawfully mandated authority, needs no permission from any rebel group to do so.

Any territory the MILF and the BIFF may hold, they hold only as a result of force and intimidation and for which the Philippine government, out of supreme folly, decided to be an issue not worth pressing. Such territories are in rebel hands not as a matter of law or right and can therefore be taken back at any time, the way then president and now Manila mayor Joseph Estrada once did.

We are being fried in our own fat. How come, if we need to enter areas supposedly controlled by the MILF, we are required to coordinate with them and yet, when the MILF moves about outside the territories they claim and into the greater territory of the republic, they are as free as birds to do so? If they can think and act in this manner, what is there for them to think and act differently the moment we hand over to them the BBL on a silver platter?

What is even more appalling is that even as the nation mourns its dead, the two women prominently leading the charge to serve the BBL to the rebels -- Teresita Deles and Miriam Coronel Ferrer -- continue singing the MILF tune despite the fact that a growing number of legal and constitutional experts have already fallen out of misconducted chorus. Arguably, they may be working for peace, but at what price, and for whose honor?

Peace cannot be that humongous for Deles and Ferrer not to see the duplicity lurking behind it. The slaughter of our policemen is the ultimate proof of this duplicity. If the MILF truly wanted peace, it needs to pay more than just lip service. It must display a genuine willingness to sacrifice a little to attain it. Even if there was lack of coordination, if we may borrow its shallow and untenable line, it still wasn't an excuse for anyone desiring peace to go on a murderous rampage.

The massacre has done more than just kill innocent law enforcement agents of the republic. It has exposed the truth about the MILF and why the Philippine government must terminate the proposal to give it autonomy in Mindanao. By its own deeds, the MILF has shown the true nature and character of the beast that we were so foolish and naive to even deal with in the first place.

For one, we were all duped into believing that the BIFF was a splinter group from the MILF and over which the MILF had no control. Well, the incident of last Sunday has shown in all its gruesome clarity that the MILF and BIFF are really one and the same efficiently murderous entity. We were led to believe they were separate so the MILF can continue negotiating while the BIFF does the terrorizing, the carrot and stick approach with but one and the same end.

Painful and bitter though it may be to consider, the massacre of last Sunday can still be a blessing in disguise. It made us sit up and consider the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law in a different light. Now that we have been rudely awakened and have seen the proposal for what it really is, this government should now move to terminate it. Nobody can now blame it for doing so. After all, it was not out of its hand that this thing happened.

There is no Camelot at the end of this road. Enough is enough. This country has bent over backward for so long. I am not suggesting we slam the door on peace. But if we must negotiate, we must negotiate on our own terms. We are not the rebels here, remember. We are the duly-constituted Republic of the Philippines, living in lawful peace and harmonious co-existence with other nations. There is no peace behind the door that is kicked open. We open it only when we are ready and willing.

jerrytundag@yahoo.com.

ALAN PETER CAYETANO AMERICAN AND PHILIPPINE BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW BUT CONGRESS CAYETANO DELES AND FERRER JOSEPH ESTRADA MILF MINDANAO PEACE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
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