Bigger priorities

By: Ricky Poca April 14,2015 - 01:56 PM

Now it is known that MILF leader Iqbal is using an alias in negotiating for peace with the government. Despite government efforts to find out, nobody knows Iqbal’s real name. His alias has been used in  hearings of the Senate, House of Representatives and the PNP Board of Inquiry investigating  the Mamasapano bloodbath.

The reaction to this has been a public demand for Iqbal to be transparent before we tackle the Basic Bangsamoro Law. Senator Koko Pimentel said something bigger than the use of an alias needs to be considered. Pimentel is correct. Attaining peace in Mindanao is a bigger issue. We must remember that the MILF is still enjoying  revolutionary status until the BBL is signed into law.

It is normal for its leaders to use a pseudonym even though many citizens complain that this goes against the spirit of negotiating in good faith. Using an alias does not mean that the parties are negotiating in bad faith. What is important is that they earnestly desire to work for  peace in Mindanao. Let us not be distracted from this  main objective.

I favor the wish of President Aquino to have the BBL passed in the interest of peace in Mindanao. For so many years, the southern part of the country has been torn up by endless wars between the government and MILF or MNLF. The first casualties are the innocents like  children and women. We aren’t yet considering the trauma of combatants and others living in conflict-ridden areas.

Those who advocate all-out war are exasperated with the conflicts carried out by our Muslim brothers in Mindanao. But nobody is a victor in war. Everybody loses, especially the  evacuees and any  prospects of development in Mindanao.

To understand those in Mindanao who are asking for peace, you have to exercise empathy and compassion. You must see the logic of those who have lived there or are immersed in the war zone like  Gen. Gregorio Catapang, AFP chief of staff, who insist on negotiating for peace in Mindanao. They know firsthand the bitterness of war compared to those who insist on all-out war but have never stepped foot in  Mindanao.

Let us give peace a chance and not be distracted by non-issues.

* * *

Last week the Court of Appeals granted the petition of the camp of Makati Mayor Junjun Binay for a restraining order to stop his  suspension by the Department of Interior and Local Government.

But the vice mayor has decided to defy the court order while awaiting the Supreme Court’s final decision on the issue.  Now Sen. Antonio Trillanes has  made a serious accusation against two justices of the Court of Appeals saying Binay paid them off for a  favorable decision.

Binay challenged Trillanes to file a case against  him and the justices. This came with a warning  that Trillanes may face a contempt charge from the  Court of Appeals.

If I were Trillanes, I would stop hiding behind congressional immunity and directly file a complaint against the  justices before the Supreme Court and do the same with Binay before the Ombudsman to put finality to his accusation.

I can’t fathom the decision of Trillanes to reveal details of the alleged  bribe instead in the Senate. He wants to be protected by the congressional privilege of legislative  members to be immune from suit for statements they make in the halls of Congress.

This is considered privileged communication. They are not held liable for their remarks made in the performance of their functions.

But the aggrieved may file a complaint of disorderly behavior against Trillanes in the Senate. If he’s found guilty, he could be suspended or expelled by the Senate with the approval of a 2/3 vote of its  members.

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