The Muslim members in the House of Representatives have appealed for sobriety in assessing the facts and circumstances behind the clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that led to the deaths of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers last January 25, 2015.
Led by Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong and Representative Tupay Loong of the National Unity Party (NUP), the Muslim bloc in the House also voiced its support for an immediate investigation conducted by an impartial body on the Mamasapano incident.
Loong is also the chairman of the House Committee on Muslim Affairs and one of the vice-chairmen of the adhoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
"We plead to our people to act with sobriety in appreciating the facts and circumstances that led to the grim incident that none of us would even dare to imagine in a civilized society where the rule of law and the desire for mutual respect and harmonious co-existence are observed as fundament standards," the Muslim representatives said in a joint statement.
Forty-four members of the SAF were killed during an encounter with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) last January 25 in Mamasapano. The SAF contingent was in the area to serve warrants of arrest against Basit Usman and Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” who allegedly have strong links with the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah.
The Muslim lawmakers said the body that will conduct the probe should be composed of an equal number of representatives from the Philippine government and the International Monitoring Team that was formed to facilitate the peace negotiations between the government and the MILF.
In their joint statement, the lawmakers also "condemn[ed] the (Mamasapano) incident as highly unfortunate in the wake of our determined and sustained effort to promote genuine peace, more particularly in Muslim Mindanao, through the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that intends to give flesh, essence and substance to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which the [government] and the MILF signed last year."
The other signatories to the joint statement are: Representatives Raden Sakaluran (1st District, Sultan Kudarat), who is also a member of the NUP; Jim Hataman-Salliman (Lone District, Basilan), vice-chairman, Ad Hoc Committee on BBL; Bai Sandra Sema (1st District, Maguindanao & Cotabato City), vice-Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL; Ansaruddin A.M.A. Adiong (1st District, Lanao del Sur);
Maryam Napii Arbison (2nd District, Sulu); Zajid Mangudadatu (2nd District, Maguindanao); Ruby Sahali (Lone District, Tawi-Tawi); Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman (Party-list AMIN); Imelda Quibranza Dimaporo (1st District, Lanao del Norte) and Abdullah Dimaporo (2nd District, Lanao del Norte).
“We grieve over the loss of lives on both sides who fought for the same cause, that the right to live in peace be for all. We believe that in order to stop the tide of violence and strife, we, as one nation, must strive even harder to foster the principles of peace and unity, equality and fraternity for all," they stressed.