AN official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called on the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to find other ways to peace, stressing that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) does not guarantee peace in Mindanao.
Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP Permanent Committee on Public Affairs, over the weekend rebuked Mohagher Iqbal, chief of the MILF negotiating panel, for claiming that the Catholic Church is supportive of the proposed Bangsamoro law.
“Granting that the Catholic Church is supportive of the BBL as alleged by Iqbal, will it change the mindset of our legislators, especially those [who are]against [the measure]?” Secillano said in an article at the CBCP website.
“Why can’t the government and Iqbal start exploring other ways to peace that will be acceptable to all?” he added.
During a recent forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, Iqbal named Ateneo de Davao president Fr. Joel Tabora, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, Cotabato Archbishop Orlando B. Cardinal Quevedo and Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma Jr. as allegedly among those pushing for the bill’s passage.
Secillano said the fate of the measure is in the hands of lawmakers, who will vote on whether to pass it.
Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives have maintained that the BBL bill needs revisions to cure some legal defects.
“Didn’t Iqbal notice that the legislators’ opposition to the BBL is not necessarily buoyed by the electorate’s rejection of the draft law, but because of their own rational appreciation that the BBL does not guarantee peace in Mindanao?” Secillano said.
A vocal critic of the BBL, he argued that everybody wants a conflict-free and prosperous Mindanao but it is wrong to say that those who reject the BBL are against peace.
CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas has also rejected the idea that peace in Mindanao is possible only through the BBL.
Villegas described the solution as “simplistic.”
President Benigno Aquino 3rd had been egging on Congress to pass the BBL measure, warning that failure to do so will lead to more bloodshed.
Villegas criticized the President for his statement.
“All must work for peace in Mindanao, and throughout the country. This precept is not seriously disputed at all. What threatens the prospect of peace most, however, is equating it with the present BBL and threatening the return of violence and bloodshed should the legislature fail to pass it intact!” the bishop said.