Press Release
February 2, 2015

Privilege Speech of Senator TG Guingona III
on Truth Commission on the Fallen 44


Mr. President:

As I stand here today, the families of many of our heroes now called the "Fallen 44" of the PNP Special Action Force have laid them to their final resting places.

The pain must be unfathomable. I can only imagine the pain of laying down to rest one who is so young ... so full of promise ... and so full of hope.

Mr. President, I stand here today to ask that we not let the sacrifice of these young heroes be in vain.

Ililibing natin ang ating mga bayani.

Huwag po nating pabayaang malibing ang katotohanan sa likod ng kanilang pagkamatay.

Huwag po nating pabayaang malibing din ang pangarap para sa pangmatagalan - at makatarungang kapayapaan para sa Mindanao.

Mr. President, this is the reason for the call ... and for the stand we make today for the creation by law of a Truth Commission.

We make the call and take the stand so that the Truth shall not be buried; so that the Dream for a lasting - and just peace in Mindanao can live on despite the nightmare that now haunts our national consciousness.

Mr. President, our efforts to achieve that Peace was based on one single, indispensable element: trust. Mutual trust. Tiwala. Tiwala sa isa't isa ng magkabilang panig.

Trust painstakingly built by the men and women from both sides who negotiated for Peace.

That is the very same trust that now faces the serious peril of being buried together with the victims of that unfortunate incident in Mamasapano.

My fellow Mindanaoans and I refuse to give up the hope for a lasting and just peace, Mr. President. And, I believe that this just and lasting Peace can be kept alive and achieved - but not without restoring the Trust on which all these efforts have stood during the past years.

But, Mr. President, how can we regain and restore Trust unless we see the Truth from the same perspective? How can both sides look each other in the eye once more with a clarity of conscience and motive unless every cloud of doubt and suspicion created in Mamasapano has been erased?

Let us have the Truth. And then we can rebuild Trust.

Mr. President, the clamor today is for Truth that will be uncovered by a body that is credible ... and independent.

A body led by and composed of Filipinos to whom the Nation looks up; are held in high esteem by our countrymen; and who have no personal motive nor agenda except service to the country.

The clamor is for a body composed of Filipinos of known probity, sobriety and wisdom ; who can detect a lie and not let it pass; who can sense a half-truth and immediately tell the missing half; who when faced with the Truth will know how to mine it, dissect it, and hold it against the light.

These are Filipinos beholden to no one except to God, their conscience and the Nation; and who owe no political debt from any power or authority in this land.

Outstanding Filipinos who have served their country. Filipinos like former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Sr.; like former Senator Wigberto Tañada; leaders of the academe like Dean Antonio La Viña.

Only a body composed of such statesmen can help us find the answers to the painful questions we now face.

Questions for the Government?

1. Quoting from the statement of Ateneo de Davao officials (and the Community Engagement and Advocacy Council) - "Why did we again take the path of guns and violence and covert secret action to solve any problem, when we had already chosen, we had already agreed, that we would take the path of negotiation, consultation, and trust to solve problems? Why did we not respect what we agreed to in the Implementing Operational Guidelines of the 1997 GRP-MILF Agreement on the General Cessation of Hostilities: 'Police and military actions...shall continue to be undertaken by the the GRP throughout Mindanao and the entire country. In pursuit thereof, confrontational situations between the GRP and MILF forces shall be avoided by prior consultations with the latter'."[1]

There is a mechanism agreed upon by the GRP and the MILF in 2002. It is called the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group or AHJAG. This is composed of eight (8) members. Four (4) from GRP and 4 from the MILF. The purpose of the AHJAG is for a coordinating body for the operations by the AFP/PNP against criminals within MILF areas.

Why did we not avail of this coordinating body called AHJAG? Why did we violate this agreement between the government and the MILF?

2. The Ateneo de Davao Officials state: "Whoever bears responsibility for the mission order to our men in uniform recklessly violated the agreement we had with the MILF. That person bears responsibility for the carnage in Mindanao. That person derails us from the path of peace... In God's name, bring that person to justice."[2]

Questions for the MILF

1. Why is the MILF giving sanctuary to terrorists in their areas? Assuming that we accept the statement of the MILF that the terrorists were harbored by the BIFF and not them. The fact still remains that it was in their area. It is also a fact that members of the MILF and the BIFF are so inter-related. According to the statement of the Ateneo de Davo Officials: "Mamasapano was known to be a sensitive, volatile area, where the ideological lines of the MILF and MNLF, and BIFF are blurred by the bloodlines of families with histories of violence. This is known in Maguindanao. It is known in Mindanao."[3]

Quoting Solita Monsod in her column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer: "And more to the point, if the MILF and the BIFF were like family, why did the MILF even condone the BIFF's protection of the terrorist Marwan...Was that not bad faith on its part?"[4]

Again this question strikes at the very core of any peace agreement -Trust.

Finally quoting from Randy David in his PDI column: "Perhaps the hardest question of all: If today wanted terrorists like Marwan and Usman, who have caused so many deaths with the bombs they make, can live undisturbed in MILF territory, what assurance do we have that they will not continue to do so more freely under an autonomous Bangsamoro state?"[5]

2. Monsod article: "Why did not the MILF authorities stop the carnage? Surely, they must have surmised that it wasn't an attack on them, but rather an extraction operation...The SAF commander is quoted as saying that in the early morning of the fighting, the joint monitoring team of the government and the MILF called for a ceasefire but that the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters continued firing. This needs to be verified."[6]

Final quote from Randy David: "We need sobriety to be able to discuss these issues rationally. But, we also need to be told the truth to be able to find our way to justice. In this time of overwhelming gloom and anger over what happened, to ask for unwavering public support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law without offering answers is to court a strong negative reaction to its passage."[7]

Mr. President, let these and other similarly painful but essential questions be answered. And let us have these questions answered before a Truth Commission - where the wisdom and determination of the men and women who compose the Commission shall suffice to trigger the compulsion of the conscience of those who hold the facts.

The task of forming the Truth Commission is an urgent one.

It must begin its work soonest. Let the work of uncovering the Truth begin so that we can take the next steps towards rebuilding...the badly damaged mutual trust. Muli, ang ating pakikiramay sa mga naulila ng ating mga bayani.

Bilang pagpupugay sa ating mga bayani, hayaan ninyong ialay namin sa kanila ang paghahanap namin ng katotohanan sa pamamagitan ng isang malaya ... at iginagalang na Truth Commission.

Ginoong Pangulo, ilalagay na sa huling hantungan ang ating mga bayani.

Huwag natin payagang malibing na kasama nila ang katotohanan ... at ang pangarap natin para sa isang pangmatagalan at makatarungang kapayapaan sa Mindanao.



[1] 2015, January 30. "Mamasapano: A Challenge To Stand For Peace". Philippine Daily Inquirer, B10.
[2] 2015, January 30. "Mamasapano: A Challenge To Stand For Peace". Philippine Daily Inquirer, B10.
[3] 2015, January 30. "Mamasapano: A Challenge To Stand For Peace". Philippine Daily Inquirer, B10.
[4] Monsod, S. (2015, January 31). Questions For Government and MILF. Philippine Daily Inquirer.
[5] David, R. (2015, February 1). Lighting Our Way To Justice. Philippine Daily Inquirer, A14.
[6] Monsod, S. (2015, January 31). Questions For Government and MILF. Philippine Daily Inquirer.
[7] David, R. (2015, February 1). Lighting Our Way To Justice. Philippine Daily Inquirer, A14.

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