EVERYBODY is now talking about next year’s elections. Who will be anointed by President Noynoy Aquino? Will it be Secretary Mar Roxas or Sen. Grace Poe? Will Vice President Jejomar Binay pursue his presidential plan despite the barrage of graft and corruption charges against him? Will Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte join the presidential race? The forthcoming election fever is the much talked about issue nowadays.

And it seems we have already forgotten the cold bloodied killing of the 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police/ Special Action Force during an encounter against combined members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in a remote village in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Dawn of Jan. 26, a battalion of SAF members were on a deadly mission to capture international terrorist Zulkifli bir Hir, alias Marwan, and his Filipino ally Basit Usman in the remote village of Tukanalipao in Mamasapano. Marwan was killed in the fierce gun battle, which also resulted to the death of the 44 SAF members. Many were also wounded. The slain 44 were called heroes. Congress went into marathon hearings to ferret out the truth surrounding the encounter. Top police and military officials blamed each other for lack of coordination. Critics of the administration demanded P-Noy’s apology and resignation because of the debacle, him being the commander-in-chief. The President ignored the public outcry. There was too much brouhaha and hullabaloo on that incident.

Six months since the incident but we have yet to hear of any development in the case.

What is the update? Has the Department of Justice filed murder charges against Muslim rebels involved in the encounter? Justice Secretary Leila de Lima earlier claimed that they have vital witnesses to the incident and that they were able to identify MILF and BIFF members who participated in the encounter. But until now, the DOJ has not filed any information in court against those involved.

Is there any recommendation from both Houses in Congress that investigated the incident to punish resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima, who was directly involved in Oplan Exodus even though he was under suspension? Is there any move to punish MILF leaders for their inaction to also punish their members involved in the encounter?

These are nagging questions that need to be answered.

If you recall, I have been warning families and relatives of the two Cebuanos SAF members, PO1 Romeo Cempron and Wendell Candano, who were killed in that incident when they cried for justice. I said they can never achieve justice because the killers of their loved ones do not recognize our judicial process, much so our government.

The MILF claims it cannot be prosecuted under the country’s judicial system because it is a revolutionary organization and it has its own rules and laws to follow. The group did not even comply with government demand to return the firearms and personal belongings of the slain 44, which Muslim rebels took after they finished off wounded government troopers.

There are only two ways an aggrieved party can obtain justice, either an accused is convicted following due process or through retribution, which is an act of revenge.

And retribution means an all-out war against the Moro guerrillas. But the Aquino did not entertain that idea because it will jeopardize ongoing peace talks with the MILF and the forthcoming passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will result to the creation of a sub-state.

With these developments going on, forget talking about justice for the 44 slain SAF troopers. Until these people will recognize our government and submit themselves to our judicial process, victims of their abuses and atrocities can never achieve justice. No peace, no justice.

(bobby.nalzaro@yahoo.com)