Excerpt from Bam’s Mornings@ANC Interview

Question: Last topic of discussion will be the Mamasapano incident, Sir. You were already quoted that the President, your cousin, is ultimately responsible for the Mamasapano incident.

Sen. Bam: As early as February, he was already admitting this. He had a public address, in fact, iyong statement nga niya was, hanggang mamatay siya, dala-dala niya ito.

The next day, people kept on asking why isn’t the President taking responsibility. But he has already stated as much.

At this point, the reports come out already, I don’t think there was really anything new with regard to P-Noy, Purisima and Napenas because napag-usapan na naman ang nagawa nila at iyong accountabilities at responsibilities.

One thing I probably try to amend is regarding the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Because there were some lines in the report or some conclusions made regarding the BBL.

For example, nakalagay doon na masyadong optimistic iyong peace panel. Or nakalagay doon na one of the casualties ng Mamasapano ay ang Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Very categorical statements, concluding on the Bangsamoro Basic Law and I think it’s beyond the scope of the report.

To conclude on what happened in Mamasapano, that’s really the job of the committee. But the BBL was not presented, it was not talked about in length, it can raise questions.

It can raise doubts but to be categorical about it I think should be left to the committee handling the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Question: So you weren’t very comfortable that the conclusion about the government peace panel?

Sen. Bam: Definitely because they weren’t given a chance to also explain. They can explain regarding the ceasefire that they tried to do.

The BBL is not just a ceasefire. It’s a whole other process.

I’m trying to get clarification now if that was a line that is categorical or if it’s one of those lines na, baka style lang iyon – it was just a matter of (writing) style.

We’re getting clarifications now and I probably will try to amend the report on those aspects.

Going back to ultimate responsibility.

Q: He’s responsible, you say, but is he liable? Apparently these are two different things.

Sen. Bam: I think Sen. Poe said it best that the responsibility is political in nature and not legal in nature. It’s really interesting that the President admits this already, and yet, the next day and the next following weeks.

Even just this weekend noong nasa Isabela ako, iyon pa rin ang tanong ng tao.  Oh, is the President accepting responsibility on this. I always say, sinabi na niya iyan.

He already said it and he submitted as much already. I think the effort to bring out the truth and be as transparent as possible is there. Nandiyan na iyan.

I think the three things that we really need to focus on, number one, iyong paghuli sa mga pumatay. I think that’s something that everybody wants to see and even the report said we should not let that go.

In fairness to Secretary de Lima, mukhang tinutuloy naman niya iyan. She will probably file charges quite soon, probably in April.

Second is to make sure that the families are taken cared of.  I think is something that the President has committed to and even the Senate, nakabantay kami kung talagang mapupunta sa kanila ang mga benepisyong dapat sa kanila.

And I think third, is really our true ultimate responsibility which is to make sure that this doesn’t happen again by pushing for peace in Mindanao.

Iyon ang totoong ultimate responsibility natin at the end of the day, to make sure more Filipinos don’t die anymore because of armed conflict.

Q:  Many people keep asking you sir, kung umamin na ba ang Presidente because it was never really, I guess, categorical, him admitting that I am responsible.

Sen. Bam: I’ll challenge that. I think it was categorical but I don’t think it wasn’t picked up enough. That’s really my assessment.

Q: So there’s nothing new?

Sen. Bam: Its nothing new. Magtataka ka. Sabi nga nila, if a lie is said often enough, it becomes truth. Baka if a question is asked often enough, it becomes an answer.

Kumbaga, tinatanong ng tinatanong kaya mukhang di sinagot pero sinagot naman.

Q: Para malinaw. He’s responsible pero he’s not liable for you?

Sen. Bam: No, I don’t think so. I think the report is quite clear that the responsibility is political in nature and not legal in that sense.

Q: But were you uncomfortable even signing that committee report, I mean of course, with reservations?

Sen. Bam: I put with reservations, in fact most of the senators put reservations and amendments.

There were some parts na I’m going to ask na isama, like si Sen. Trillanes wanted some parts na isama sa executive session.   Of course, sinabi na niya sa media ‘di ba but I will ask the committee first if they can include some other parts.

Q: What he said was he asked the committee kung puwede masama ang executive session and I think he won that through a vote. What he did, he spoke to the resource persons, got their permission and told us.

Sen. Bam: Anyway may proseso iyan.

Q: Do you think that it should be included?

Sen. Bam: I think a lot of senators want to put in more facts into the report, including myself, and don’t forget that in May, that will be finalized through a vote and before that, Senator Poe, will need to get the inputs of other senators.

So the report that we saw, might be different from the report that will finally come out because of the amendments.

Primarily, my concerns were really regarding the peace process kasi as you read it kasi, parang tapos, and again, this really pains me because at the end of the day, it’s really our true responsibility to make sure that the peace process continues now.

Q: Does that mean that you’re still supporting the BBL?

Sen. Bam: I’ll put in my amendments and hopefully the BBL, after amended, can actually resolve some of these issues now.

The BBL, as is, I don’t think has a chance of getting passed, as is.

A lot of amendments need to be put in, parts about the constitutionality needs to be corrected on that aspect.

Even before Mamasapano, marami nang may gustong mag-amend niyan. In fact, indigenous peoples came to my office and said senator paki-klaro naman sa BBL ang karapatan ng indigenous peoples, kasi hindi malinaw na kung pagkatapos gawin ang BBL, kung ang mga lupa namin in the area, kung ano ang treatment noon.

I committed to them. I said we will clarify that all of your rights under the IPRA will not be affected by the BBL.  So even before Mamasapano, may mga amendments na talaga iyan to really improve it.

That’s our job, to deliberate, debate and come up with the best version of the law.

Definitely, may mga issues na iyan. Because of Mamasapano, I think some issues need to be clarified with regard to security measures, with regards to the budget. It has to go through the process.

Ang mahalaga sa akin is that we don’t let go of the peace process. Some people have suggested mag-charter change na lang tayo para federalism. That’s Mayor Duterte’s suggestion actually.

Puwede ring pag-usapan iyon, puwedeng pag-usapan ang BBL, ang mahalaga we don’t just let it go.

We’re quite close already, admittedly maraming pagbabago kailangang mangyari, maraming reforms kailangang ipasok but I hope people won’t let go of that peace process because that’s our responsibility at the end of the day.

Q: Do you think it’s still possible for the BBL to be passed before the end of the term of the President?

Sen. Bam: I think it’s possible with significant amendments and significant changes but if it doesn’t pass. Si Speaker has already said to look for Plan B.

Nabasa ko iyon noong isang araw. Then what’s that Plan B, what’s plan C, what plan D and let’s make sure that one of those plans does come to pass.

Q: What could be a Plan B for you?

Sen. Bam: A charter change. Maybe not now, maybe the next president.

Q: You’re open to that?

Sen. Bam: That’s the plan B that they’re talking about.

Q: No, you. Is that something that you would be open to? Would you support something like that?

Sen. Bam: For the next president probably. In fact, hindi lang naman iyan tungkol sa Bangsamoro.

Economic provisions, sa Bangsamoro, a lot of term limits, a lot of these things need to be changed. For the next president na siguro iyon.

Q:  Do you support federalism?

Sen. Bam: Maybe categorically, hindi support, but maybe we can take a second look at it.

Q: So you’re open? Why?

Sen. Bam: The idea that your locality has enough power to determine what’s going to happen in a small area, I think mahalaga iyon.

Malinaw rin ang responsibilities ng local at kung ano ang responsibilities ng national. That’s something I think we can look at definitely.

I’m sure a few senators will be willing to look at that too. My point lang is, let’s just make sure we don’t let go of the peace process.

I hope we can continue reminding everyone that come May, June, July iyong usapin diyan about BBL and maybe other alternatives.

We just make sure that it does push through. Huwag tayong ningas kugon na papakawalan na lang natin. Sayang naman, we’re close to it already, we just make sure that we go the distance.

Q: Last question sir, should the President apologize for the Mamasapano incident?

Sen. Bam: I think  by saying he was responsible for it, categorically, saying he will bring this to his death, malaking bagay na iyon. That’s really up to him.

We don’t live in a vacuum. Right now a lot of the moves are really towards 2016 already.

You’re almost that it’s a trap. You’re almost sure na soon na mag-sorry siya, someone’s gonna say, bakit naka-smile, bakit di sincere ang mukha, o bakit ganoon ang tono ng boses niya.

I’m almost sure that those who are asking him to say sorry are already ready with their statement after he does.

The best way to move forward are the three things I mentioned.

Let’s ensure that peace happens, let’s take care of the families and iyong mga pumatay, let’s bring them to justice.



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