Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Teddy Baguilat Wants Justice For Slain Cops, Still Supports The Bangsamoro Basic Law

Congressman Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr, the representative of the lone district of Ifugao is calling for justice for the dozens of police officers who were killed during an encounter with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao last Sunday (January 25). Among those who perished during the encounter were 12 Cordilleran cops who belong to the Philippine National Police's Special Action Force group.

In a press release, Baguilat said that all the victims of the encounter in Maguindanao deserve justice. However, he added that he still maintains his support for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL. He also called for his fellow legislators to "take “the high road” and retain support for lasting peace in Mindanao through the passage" of the BBL.

Baguilat observes that some legislators are now doubting the proposed law because of the massacre. His stance is that the peace process should continue despite the problems raised by the Maguindanao incident. According to him, those responsible for the "mistake of miscoordination and inefficient intelligence gathering" should be investigated and held accountable.

Following the clash between the government special forces and Muslim rebels, Senator Bongbong Marcos has suspended the hearings on the passage of the proposed law under his committee. Two other Senators - Alan Cayetano and JV Ejercito - also withdrew their authorship of the proposed law.
In this file photo by the US Army taken in 2010, Special Action Force cops serve as security during a medical outreach in Lamitan, Basila. Source: US Department of Defense
Posts by Baguilat on Twitter and Facebook made some people think that the solon might also be changing his mind on the BBL. In one post, he wrote, "Just found out that one of those killed is a cousin. Two more are also Ifugaos. Hard for me to be hopeful of the process." It turned out, however, that the cousin he was referring to didn't actually die but was only wounded during the encounter. Three of the more than 40 cops who perished in the encounter are from Ifugao.

With the recent press release which he posted on Facebook, Baguilat set the record straight that he is retaining his support of the proposed law. He said it's emotionally difficult for him to support the BBL since a lot of those killed were Cordillerans but he believes it's the way for finally achieving peace in Mindanao.

"I remembered my brother, Capt. Winston Baguilat, who died in 1998 in the fields of Basilan, killed probably by a Muslim insurgent’s bullet. I felt grief. But I told myself if I could make a difference someday, I would rather take the tougher road to lasting peace than a knee jerk call for total war," Baguilat said.