‘Saber-rattling on BBL wrong road to peace’


Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas has dismissed the idea that peace in Mindanao can only be had through the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), as well as the threats that violence will resume if Congress does not pass it in full, dismissing such “solutions” as “simplistic.”

“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!” Villegas said in a pastoral letter released on the anniversary of the Day of Valor or Araw ng Kagitingan.

In an article posted on the CBCP News website, Villegas, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said complicated history and complicated issues do not lend themselves to simplistic solutions, adding that the more possibilities are restricted, the less likely truly lasting peace becomes.

“Our sights should be set not on a truce, not on some tenuous cessation of hostilities, and for this, principles must be explicated, clearly discussed and rationally agreed on. This is what I refer to as ‘principled peace’. And warning that we shall have war unless BBL is passed does not make for principled peace!” he explains.

Villegas stresses this cannot be attained unless a firm resolve to respect the rights of the “people of Mindanao” —Muslims and non-Muslims alike—are made.

He said Mindanaoans’ just claim to a share in the prosperity of the nation and to its resources rests on social justice, while the right to self-determination entitles them to live by their moral codes, cultural mores, and rich traditions.

“It is the name of their right to determine how they ought to live and how they ought to organize themselves to be true to their most sacred beliefs and their heritage as a people,” he said.

“Self-determination is their greatest entitlement to that degree of autonomy that is consistent with the right of the Republic to its integrity and sovereignty. We are not conceding favors to Mindanao. We are recognizing the rights of the people of Mindanao and according them their due. It is not a matter of condescension and accommodation but of justice!” he adds.

Villegas points out religious freedom is the reason the people of Mindanao should not be forced to bow to a secular regime if they believe they should be practicing their religion even in their civil and political lives.

“Religious freedom does not only mean that there should be room for all to freely believe and freely practice. It also means that secularism cannot be an imposed ideology on the entire Republic!” he said.

Malacañang on Saturday disputed a World Bank-funded study that concluded that the BBL would not succeed in ensuring peace in Mindanao.

In a radio interview, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the study did not even look into Malacañang’s version of the BBL.

“It did not consider the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law submitted by President Benigno Aquino 3rd to Congress on September 10, 2014 so it was not covered in the report,” Valte said, reacting to a statement of Sen. Francis Escudero earlier this week.

Escudero cited a World Bank-funded study of the conflict in Mindanao to point out that even if the BBL is enacted into law, the government will still need to deal with other armed groups in Mindanao.

The BBL is a product of the peace deal between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The Palace official said the peace process between the MILF and the government “means peace with the largest and most organized armed group, which has been fighting the government for decades.”

“So to end this armed conflict means that this organized armed body ceases to fight with government and instead becomes a partner in addressing the problems that are facing the country,” Valte said.

“So it enables the effective exercise of the rule of law over areas previously outside the reach of government and in, you know, as some quarters would say, ‘ungovernable’,” she added.

Valte also said the government’s partnership with the MILF was valuable and in line with the nation’s aspirations on security and prosperity.

“It’s not that you’re talking to them to the exclusion of other groups who are also willing to talk peace,” she said.

She also pointed out that not all armed groups in Mindanao wanted to talk peace. Others just want to pursue their own interests.

On one hand, Valte said the report also acknowledged that ending the conflict between the government and MILF would reduce “a significant source of political violence with huge costs in terms of death, injury and displacement, and will impact positively on the prospects of peace and stability across the Bangsamoro.”

She also said the report had “very interesting data on the conflict in areas of Mindanao, in such that it identifies new causes of violence.”

The report will be useful for those involved in the peace process, especially the policymakers, Valte added.

The World Bank study titled “Rebellion, Political Violence and Shadow Crimes in the Bangsamoro: The Bangsamoro Conflict Monitoring System (BCMS) 2011-2013” was undertaken to provide data that would help in understanding the conflict in Mindanao.

It said information was “critical in dealing with the potential recurrence of conflict after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro” between the government and the MILF.

International Alert UK Philippines and the World Bank put up the BCMS to “monitor and analyze conflict, particularly violent conflict with the Bangsamoro and adjoining areas.”

The BCMS collected conflict data from 2011 to 2013 from the Philippine National Police and five credible print media sources in five provinces.

The World Bank study looked into and analyzed data on conflict in the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi where there were 2,578 violent incidents of violence from 2011 to 2013.

The five provinces make up the bulk of the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous region.


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  1. It is more correct to believe that peace will prevail not only in Mindanao but throughout the PHILIPPINES ,IF THERE IS NO MORE AQUINO IN THE GOVERNMENT…MY OPINION.

  2. Mahirap maniwala na BBL ang magbibigay ng Peace sa Mindanao,kasi kung ma approved man yan,sasabihin ng mga ibang grupo doon tulad ng BIFF at MNLF e MILF lang ang nakipag peace sa gobyerno kami hindi. Kaya and mangyayari tuloy pa rin ang gulo nyan kasi magpapalakas naman ng pwersa ang MNLF at BIFF at sino kalaban nila e di gobyerno parin.kaya wala rin.
    Ang dapat gawin ng Gobyerno natin,lahat ng grupo ng rebelde sa Mindanao ay himukin nilang maging isang grupo at magkaroon sila ng isang lider na kausap ng gobyerno natin para magkaintindihan ng maayos para sa isang kapayapaan..mahirap gawin yun pero mangyayari kung totoo silang naghahanap ng kapayapaan.At dapat bawal makihalo sa peace process ang ano mang bansa dahil ito ay INTERNAL AFFAIRS ng ating bansa lang.

  3. ‘Ow common guys let’s give peace a chance, let be remembered that the Muslims in Mindanao have been fighting ever since from the Spanish era as a sign of objection to their rule then to the Americans which did not adopt their form of federal government but instead the unitary form wherein they were able to extract our natural resources with impunity then to the Japanese. Why not give the Moro people authority to partially govern themselves to see if they can level up their livelihood (ARMM is half baked), Maguindanao, Lanao and Basilan provinces are one of the poorest in the country maybe due to neglect or to any other reason, my friend can you offer a solution? common let’s not be selfish, federalism maybe a solution….

  4. Who’s afraid of Malaysia?. Only Pnoy, Murad, Iqbal (all aliases). Deles, Ferrer(all biases). These are potential body bags if they fail to deliver BBL to their Malaysian cohorts. Else they will get promised positions, power and wealth as DPAs if Mindanao is dismembered. From Filipinos, this gang should get our dirty fingers for taking us and the SAF 44 for a ride.

  5. This peace accord is only between the MILF and the Phil govt! Other stake holders in Mindanao are not included in this peace accord. MILF is only in Maguindanao! The MILF are Maranaos. This BBL is a burning fuze ready to explode in a bigger war in Mindanao. Other Muslim Tribes are against the BBL as well the Christians in Mindanao. The MILF is trying to make up stories that this BBL is for the whole Mindanao but in reality it’s not. Junk BBL!

    • Furthermore the word “CONTIGUOUS” is in the BBL and the MILF are now doing a creeping invasion in other provinces that is not included in the BBL. So there can never be peace but a major war soon to happen in Mindanao.

  6. Malaysia ang dahilan ng lahat ng kaguluhan sa Mindanao. Lets get even to them in the future by making this country rich like Singapore. Lets bring in business and the road to agricultural, tourism and industriailization progress.

  7. The Archbishop dismissed the idea that peace in Mindanao can only be had through the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), as well as the threats that violence will resume if Congress does not pass it in full. This is a true statement. The wrong solution to the problems in Mindanao are being pushed as the BBL. Junk the BBL and start over.

  8. Pass the BBL and I’m sure Malaysia will slowly take control of Mindanao by taking out all it’s natural resources after grabbing oil rich Sabah.

  9. Our country is better off with Federal form of government to alleviate widespread poverty.

    Enemy of the state whether they are Moro rebels, NPA and etc resort to hostile measure boils down to poverty due to massive corruption.

    If we can curb corruption in the government with an iron fist then we might not see armed hostility not only in Mindanao but in other parts of philippines.

  10. Ruben V. Calip on

    Thank God for Archbishop Soc Villegas’ Godly pastoral letter.

    And woe to Valte and her Aquino administration bosses–specally Deles, the spiritual and intellectual leader of the Hyatt 10 Remnants Clique that seems to be the true intellectual and physical powers in Malacanang. Archbishop Villegas’ message sgows that he finds the position of the Aquino administration WRONG not just about ramming through passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law but also about imposing a secular and anti-religion, anti-Christian-Catholic ideology over the Philippine Republic whose founding fathers (including anti-friar and pro-God and Roman Catholic intellectuals) called on us Filipinos to be persons of virtue and Godliness.
    Please continue giving us, the Catholic flock, these messages that reflect the true Magisterium of the Church, Archbishop Villegas. And turn away from the EVIL unChristian Aquino Regime.

  11. Both Iqbar and Murad (or whatever alias they call themselves in 2 months) and also Malakanyang say violence will return (bodybags!!!!) if BaBaLA does not get approved. But violence has never left, ano namang lokohan ang pinapatakbo nila? And it’s not me saying violence has not left, it is the World Bank!!! And the World Bank says the violence will still be there even with this baBALA House Bill. Ano ba namang lokohan ito?

  12. sonny dela cruz on

    The government doesn’t need the BBL. The congress made a lot of laws but never been implemented. This BBL is a ploy by the MILF to blackmail the Republic of the Philippines for monetary interest and power to declare war if BBL is not pass by the Philippine congress. Laws that are punishable are carrying of unregistered guns, rebellion against the Republic to secede in violent ways. The use of fictitious name in an official documents. Manufacturing of guns and ammo without a permit or license are a very grave violation of the law. The Philippine government should implement the laws also for the Moros not only for the peace loving Christian Filipinos. If they don’t comply with the laws of the Republic of the Philippines, the AFP and all forces of the government should be used to curtail these lawless people in Mindanao, then a lasting peace in Mindanao will prevail.

  13. Rosauro Feliciano on

    What do the leaders of the MILF consider the leadership of the Government in this peace talk, a bunch of morons that they will only reveal their real names once the proposed bangsamoro basic law (bbl) is passed by the Congress of the Republic of the Philippines? The MILF leadership cannot offer such a condition as to just reveal their real names when the bbl will be approved because that is an outright unconcealed disregard to our anti-alias law, which was established long before anyone of us was born and repeatedly enhanced to safeguard public and private documents.
    Moro leaderships have a long history of unpredictability because it is inherent in their culture, that even among themselves in the community where they live, there is no harmony. So how much more if the so called bbl will not be scrutinized rigidly by our lawmakers? We are not saying that the bbl will not be given something to be recognized. What we mean is that, the bbl has to be impregnable in its significance or its importance and therefore it needs to have impenetrable proof so the bangsamoro will not have the chance of seceding from the Republic of the Philippines or in simple words proclaiming independence.

    Don’t believe the sugar coated words of Salah Jubair (Iqbal) that as what he says, “if you pass the BBL, everything will normalize.” He is putting his hope on Sura 8:57.

    The Filipino nation says resoundingly NO to the bbl in its present form; it must be watered down and only then the bbl will be recognized not only by our Congress but by the entire nation who quests for peace.

  14. Peace in Mindanao can only be attain and achieved if the various rebel groups set aside religion as main source of differences and conflict. Join the rest of the majority Filipno in nation building and brotherhood. No amount in word put to written contract will peace finally has it place in Mindanao. Treat from the government panelist that if BBL will not be ratify then war will broke out again is a legal blackmail. Are we that desperate to achieved peace even if the future seem bleak from the start ? Peace with one group and war with the other group is not PEACE period.

  15. As expected PNoy’s spokespersons are belittling a UN study about the situation in muslim Mindanao. One does not believe that this UN report was just prepared overnight and for sure this was done with time and careful study. Maybe Lady Gaga and her allies have a much better report showing the PNoy administration is correct and better than an international study.

  16. If you don’t pass BaBaLA as we have written it, Iqbal says, we will continue what we do — ambuscades, bombs going off in markets and near schools. The guy-who-calls-himself-Iqbal says there is continuation of Muslim-on-Muslim fighting for territory and for guns.
    Just think of the number of MILF soldiers – tens of thousands — and the hundreds of thousands of civilians who really truly want peace but can’t find peace because peace is being held hostage by the MILF. That is the matter — the MILF is holding hostage (with their threat of gun violence and their actions of IEDs and ambuscade of gobyerno-troops, with their coddling of Arwan and other bombmakers, with their violence against MNLF and other Muslim groups)… the MILF is holding hostage the peace being sought by the hundreds of thousands of civilians in Maguindanao, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and other areas of Mindanao.