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Quevedo asks peace advocates to continue engaging legislators on BBL

Breaking News • 15:44 PM Fri Oct 9, 2015
OPAPP news release
Cotabato archbishop His Eminence Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, DD (sitting, 2nd from left) discusses BBL issues with peace builders during a forum in Cotabato City. (OPAPP phot)

COTABATO CITY– A key advocate of the Bangsamoro peace process and leader of the Catholic Church in predominantly Muslim Cotabato City has asked his fellow peacebuilders to continue to engage members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to secure the passage of a Bangsamoro Basic Law that would grant genuine autonomy and social justice to the region. We all know that the versions of the BBL [Bangsamoro Basic Law] in the Legislature are far from acceptable,” said Cardinal Orlando Quevedo during a multi-stakeholders forum entitled People's Conversations on Hurdling the Roadblocks in the Bangsamoro Roadmap to Peace held last October 6-7, 2015 at Em Manor Hotel in Cotabato City. Several comparative analyses prove that such BBL versions are reflections of a dismal mindset that is hopelessly mired within the structural paradigm of Local Government Units,” said Cardinal Quevedo.However, those who seek peace in Mindanao and in Bangsamoro have no option but to continue to engage legislators in their desire to get a good version of the BBL passed, he pointed out. Let them (legislators) be aware that social justice long denied the Bangsamoro is in their hands, and now is the time not to squander the opportunity of laying down the foundations of a just and lasting peace,” Cardinal Quevedo said. Let us appeal to (legislators’) sense of the common good of all, especially of peoples’ long deprived of their right to self- determination accorded by the Constitution,” he added.The forum was organized by the United Nations Development Program and OXFAM in cooperation with other civil society organizations and media aimed to gather friends of peace and partners in order to map, plan, and implement imperative actions in pushing for the passage of the BBL that is acceptable and compliant with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).”Cardinal Quevedo said that the revisions made on the original BBL are the result of the perceptions of legislators and of several legal and constitutional experts regarding the constitutionality of the Framework Agreement, the Comprehensive Agreement, the BBL and many of its provisions, that the original BBL was a formula for the establishment of a separate and independent State and that it will result in the dismemberment of the Republic.”He said that these perceptions as well as the underlying attitude of mistrust, bias and prejudice, fear and even paranoia with regard to the MILF and to Muslims in general – an attitude that exploded into the public sphere as a result of Mamasapano” are the major roadblocks that they [peace advocates] need to confront.Peace advocates from across different sectors all over the country including renowned constitutionalist and one of the Framers of the 1987 Constitution Atty. Christian Monsod, converged and participated in the multi-stakeholders forum.However dismal the projections of the BBL legislative deliberations are both in the House and the Senate, still some NGOs are doing their best efforts to have an acceptable BBL to be passed,” said Guiamel Alim, chairman of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, one of the co-organizers of the event.Alim said that while others may already be feeling hopeless, we continue to lobby… We do not want history to condemn us for not doing the utmost effort to attain peace.” Passing BBL a solemn duty of Congress Monsod, one of the surviving members of the Framers of the 1987 Constitution, stressed that enacting the organic act for the Bangsamoro is the solemn duty of Congress. It is the duty of the Congress to enact the organic law. The Constitution already prescribes the powers of this unique political entity,” said Monsod.He said that contrary to what the some legislators contend, the fact is, it is not the BBL that gives powers to the autonomous region. It is the constitution itself that gives powers to autonomous regions.”Monsod also emphasized that unlike laws initiated by Congress, the Organic Act is not subject to the absolute discretion of the Congress to deny or diminish. The organic act is supposed to spell out the details of these nine basic powers because the powers not provided by the Constitution and organic law are vested to the national government.” The BBL, as a legislative embodiment of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, is supposed to implement the Constitution, not to amend it,” he added. Beyond the misperceptions and prejudice Monsod said that the Bangsamoro can be a model for social justice and human development that we have so far failed to do for the whole of the country.”He explained that the political infrastructure proposed can make a successful realization of it and we must trust [this political infrastructure] with power, resources and legitimate firepower.”Instead, major roadblocks are hindering the possibility of such success far beyond the misperceptions and prejudice, Monsod said. Are we incapable of that trust OR are we afraid to give it the autonomy, powers and resources to do a good job of it because they might succeed where we, the Christian majority, have failed despite the promise of EDSA and the Constitution?” Monsod asked.

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