During Wednesday’s Edsa People Power Anniversary commemoration — the same occasion that inspired outrage and frustration from motorists and commuters who had to go to work amid hasty rerouting and the resulting monstrous traffic — the chief executive branded those who were opposing the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law as “enemies of peace.”
The proposed Bangsamoro law was being deliberated by Congress, and being questioned for several unconstitutional provisions, when the Mamasapano tragedy took place on January 25. On this day, 44 members of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police were killed after they served a warrant of arrest on Malaysia terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, who had been hiding in the lair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for more than 10 years.
It is the MILF which inked the peace agreement with the Philippine government. The BBL, if passed by Congress, would flesh out the terms of that agreement and establish the Bangsamoro entity in Mindanao.
What happened in Mamasapano however cast serious doubts on the sincerity of the MILF, especially since post-mortem findings reveal that at least 27 of the 44 had been shot at close range. This compounded the questions on the law’s constitutionality that had been there even before Mamasapano happened.
Calls for slowing down on the BBL are justified, prudent and logical.
Mr. Aquino, however, does not believe so. He is hell bent on seeing the committee-level approval next month and the passage of the law in June. He has issued marching orders to Congress not to “dilute the bill too much.”
The MILF, it is said, would not be happy with too many departures from the version it had agreed to. And the President, who has been criticized for his cavalier attitude with regard to the 44 who perished and the families they left behind, does not appear willing to miff the MILF. In fact, he has unequivocally declared he continues to trust the MILF.
Whom he does not trust are those who don’t share his eagerness to pass the bill. He went as far as saying that these people wanted to preserve the status quo of violence because they were benefiting from it. “ They want Filipinos to go their separate ways, lose their trust in one another, so they can pursue their own agenda.”
In Mr. Aquino’s scheme of things, peace is equal, and only equal, to the passage of the BBL. But the imperfect BBL is only one of the means to attain that peace. It may achieve that purpose, sure. Or it may not. This is why there is need for more questions, more debates.
Every Filipino is for peace. Every Filipino wishes to see an end to the violence and to witness development of Mindanao that will allow it to achieve its full potential. But contrived peace is not peace. A rushed agreement amid serious doubts and apparent bad faith is not peace. A law’s swift passage amid legitimate questions is not peace. It is a sham.
Branding those who simply want to be more careful “enemies of peace” is, in itself, a hostile act.