THE NATION MUST RISE ABOVE ANGER
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has appealed to the country’s top political leaders to rise above the national outrage and anger over the Mamasapano, Maguindanao incident where 44 police commandos of the police Special Action Forces (SAF) were killed by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
The Mamasapano massacre has sparked a national anger and darkened the future of a peace agreement
with the MILF seen as a final solution to the Moro problem in Mindanao. As the fate of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) hangs, lawmakers and government bodies conduct investigation to look into the bloodbath, the biggest single-day casualty for the Philippine National Police in the campaign against the 40-year Moro insurgency. The Mamasapano massacre happened as the Congress was in the homestretch of deliberating on the BBL, the law that would create an autonomous Bangsamoro government in Mindanao, that President Benigno Aquino said must be approved this year.
Amid the chaos and the tension, Duterte said there is immediate need for everybody to help one another in preparing a back-up plan in case the BBBL fails to pass Congress.
“The outrage is understandable. The loss of 44 lives of the members of the Special Action Force (SAF) is a national tragedy but as leaders of this country, we have to calm our people instead of stoking the fire of hatred,” Duterte said.
Duterte also cautioned those who are calling for an “All-Out War,” to exact vengeance against the groups believed responsible for the death of the 44 policemen.
“An outbreak of violence in Mindanao would be disastrous not only for innocent civilians but also for the whole country,” said Duterte, a strong advocate of peace talks with the Moro people as the solution to the Mindanao problem.
“I join the nation in demanding justice for the fallen SAF commandos and in determining who was responsible for the disastrous mission but we must not allow ourselves to be carried away by our emotions,” Duterte said.
“I have seen first hand the horrors of conflict. I carried in my arms the bodies of innocent civilians mangled by bombs which hit the San Pedro Cathedral, the international airport and the Sasa wharf not so long ago,” he said.
“Rising above the deafening din of cries for revenge to think of ways to avoid an outbreak of hostilities is not cowardice or an act to dishonor those who sacrificed their lives to make our communities safe from the threats of terrorists but prudence and level-headedness,” the City Mayor said.
“The effort to neutralize the enemies of peace and those who wish to harm our people must indeed be continued, this time taking to mind the lessons learned from previous operations,” Duterte said.
He said that the effort to find a lasting solution to the Mindanao conflict to achieve peace must never be abandoned.
“Let us not forget that in the history of the wars of the world, even the bloodiest conflicts mankind had ever witnessed where millions of lives were lost, the conflict ended in the peace table,” Duterte said.
Duterte said that there should be three courses of action which should be taken by the national leadership to handle the crisis resulting from the Mamasapano incident:
First, determine accountability on the tragic mission and establish the criminal liability of those involved with the purpose of serving justice to the victims and their loved ones.
Second, draft and implement a plan of action to handle the volatile situation and ensure that it will not degenerate into another round of hostilities; and
Third, prepare an alternative plan in case the BBL fails to pass Congress, the Senate and the Supreme Court so that the search for peace will be pursued.