A CALL for justice is sought for slain members of an elite police team who were ambushed in Maguindanao.
"It was emotionally difficult for me to stay true to the call for peace considering that Cordillerans were among those who were mercilessly killed during the fierce battle," Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat said.
However, Baguilat added, "Legislators should take the high road and retain support for lasting peace in Mindanao through the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law."
Over 50 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) were killed in an ambush in the encounter between the police and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Tukalinapao, Mamasapano, on Monday.
Baguilat said among those from the Cordillera who died were from Ifugao, saying his first reaction upon hearing the news was to doubt the process and call for a strong military response.
“Cordillerans thousands of miles away died for the country. They are among the fiercest warriors of the country and were recruited as special forces and usually assigned in strife-torn areas because of their skills in jungle warfare. Cordillerans are really paying the ultimate sacrifice to maintain peace and order in the country,” Baguilat lamented.
“I remembered my brother, Capt. Winston Baguilat, who died in 1998 in the fields of Basilan, killed probably 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 shared.
Baguilat still believes the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, saying it is the way to help Muslim brothers and sisters in Mindanao achieve their development goals under an autonomous region.
“I believe the braver thing to do now is to pray and persevere and believe, still, in the vision of peace,” he ended.