The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Thursday said the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is pending in
Congress could bring more division to the Filipino nation than unity.
Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles said the BBL could waste the country’s territorial integrity if the government fails to hear the concerns of all stakeholders.
Valles said the integrity of the country should be preserved because the BBL is not only for the people of Mindanao but for the entire country.
The CBCP vice president explained that “everybody” must be involved, heard and consulted in the drafting of the proposed BBL law.
“In the end, it would be a BBL that will truly promote peace for everyone,” he said.
CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas supported the sentiment of Valles, saying that there should be an extensive consultation and dialogue with all the stakeholders as far as the BBL is concerned.
“It [BBL)] will affect the whole country and therefore all people should be heard, all people should be consulted, and all people should study it as part of good citizenship,” he said.
He added that the minority people in Mindanao and even the indigenous Christians “who are minority in some provinces” must be listened to as the government drafts the BBL.
“It is very important as Pope Francis told us that the people in the periphery be given a voice. While we want to give self-determination and autonomy to our BBL, that self-determination, that autonomy cannot be at the expense of the integrity of the Philippine territory,” he said.
“So, extensive dialogue [is needed]. Number two, please make sure that the marginalized sectors are given a voice and are listened to; and number three, it should not be at the expense of the territorial integrity of the Philippines and there must be no cessation within the Philippine territory,” he added.
The CBCP head pointed out that the Catholic Church only wanted to ensure that the territorial integrity of the Philippines would be preserved as mandated by the Philippine Constitution.
He explained that “the process is more important than the results, and that the goal of the law is the promotion of peace and human development, which leads to the core of the gospel.”
Villegas said their stand on the BBL was among the agenda discussed during the CBCP’s 110th Plenary Assembly.
“We also studied the BBL draft presented to the Senate and to the House of Representatives for approval, and we will submit to both houses of Congress the position of the bishops about the BBL,” he said.