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Striving for a just peace, the moral road

Church • 17:50 PM Tue Jul 14, 2015
1,037
By: 
CBCP

Statement of CBCP Plenary Assembly Adopting the Mindanao
Catholic Bishops on the BBL and the Peace Process

Guide our feet into the way of peace” (Lk. 1and79)

Our Common Stand

Questions and varying opinions about the peace process and
the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) abound at all levels of Mindanao society.

As religious and moral teachers we, Catholic bishops of
Mindanao, stand on common moral ground on the issues.

We do not intend to endorse or not to endorse any draft BBL
being discussed by the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives. But
we intend to envision a BBL that is based on and guided by social moral
principles.

We note thatand

(1) Christianity
and Islam are religions of peace
(2) The vast
majority of Muslim, Christian, and Indigenous People communities in Mindanao
aspire for peace and
(3) All-out war
is not the answer to the Mindanao situation.

Ever since colonial times, Muslim leaders have expressed
three major grievancesand the reduction of their ancestral territory, the erosion
of their cultural identity, and the loss of self-determination in the
development of their communities.

At the basis of the deep fundamental Bangsamoro aspiration
to self-determination in an autonomous region is the moral principle of social
justice. Social justice implies the other moral principles of just peace and
inter-religious harmony.

This is the moral framework from which we view the peace
process and the draft BBL.

A Social Climate of Mutual Mistrust, Bias and Prejudice

The present social context is one of mutual biases and
prejudices, of mutual charges of injustice. Such social climate demands moral
consideration.

For the Christian disciple, the fundamental wake-up call to
conscience would beand Would Jesus approve our biases and prejudices that create
unpeace?

Bias and prejudice are part and parcel of the deep mistrust
between Christians and Muslims, two peoples coming from the same Abrahamic
faith.

It is this climate of mistrust that the horrible human
tragedy at Mamasapano, Maguindanao, has resurrected. It has placed the peace
process and the proposed BBL in limbo. But we believe that the Mamasapano
disaster must not be equated with the BBL.

A BBL We Do Not Want

Everyone wants peace, everyone wants some kind of BBL.

On our part, viewing the issues from a moral angle, we do
not want a BBL that

does not effectively address the root causes of social
injustice.

We do not want a BBL that does not achieve the
centuries-old Bangsamoro aspiration for self-determination.

We do not want a BBL that makes the proposed Bangsamoro
area of self-determination less autonomous than the ARMM it is meant to
replace.

We do not want a BBL that discriminates by not effectively
protecting and promoting the rights of minorities, indigenous or not.

We do not want a BBL that will foster ethnic, religious,
political, and economic discrimination.

A BBL We Want

Like everyone else we, Bishops, want a just and lasting
peace.

For this reason, we want a Bangsamoro Basic Law that is
rooted in social justice and promotes social justice.

We want a BBL that effectively addresses the injustices
suffered by the Bangsamoro as well as the injustices suffered by indigenous
peoples and various religious minorities within the proposed Bangsamoro area.

We want a BBL that concretely achieves the
self-determination of the Bangsamoro in an identified area that remains part
and parcel of the territorial integrity and under the national sovereignty of
the Philippine Republic.

We want a BBL that promotes harmonious relationships
between peoples of various ethnic groups and of different faiths.

We want a BBL that effectively protects universal human
rights, particularly the rights of IPs already enshrined in law, and the rights
of Christian minorities who fear harassment and further marginalization.

We want a BBL that responds concretely to the concerns,
hopes and aspirations of all stakeholders, of various Bangsamoro groups, and of
non-Moro citizens within the new Bangsamoro autonomous region.

We want a BBL whose provisions are clearly Constitutional,
without betraying the intent and spirit of peace agreements.

That is the BBL we envision on the basis of social moral
principles of social justice, harmony and peace. It is a vision that goes
beyond the proposals now being discussed in our legislature.

The Constitutional Issue

On both sides of the constitutional issue are legal experts
and constitutional luminaries. One group defends the constitutionality of BBL
provisions and their root-documents, the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro
(FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). The other group
rejects them as unconstitutional.

In the light of these divergent expert opinions we note the
scrutiny of the BBL by Ad Hoc Legislative Committees.

We pray that the Ad Hoc Committees seriously and fairly
consider these contrary expert opinions so as not to imperil the requirements
of social justice for the Bangsamoro.

The suggestion of many experts, we believe, is wise — that
such issues be left to the Supreme Court for judicial review. If left out
through substantive revisions, the Supreme Court can no longer re-insert them.

The Need for Trust in Waging Peace

Through many years of intense, and often adversarial
debates, the relationship between our government peace panel and the MILF peace
panel has evolved from suspicion and hostility to mutual trust and
understanding.

Theirs was a labor of partnership and they have produced,
they believe, an agreement that, though imperfect, is a pathway to a just and
lasting peace.

Let us then transcend the negative emotions of human
tragedy and continue on the road to peace by way of dialogue, based on mutual
trust, openness, and respect.

Conclusion

We reiterate the fundamental intention of this statement.
It does not intend to be either for or against the various drafts of the BBL
being discussed in our Legislature. It simply presents social and moral
principles and envisions, in general terms, a BBL that flows from the same
principles.

The moral imperative to lasting peace is thisand Christians,
Muslims, Lumads and members of other faiths have to begin trusting in one
another.

/Continuing mistrust is the road to continuing violence and
unrest in Mindanao. Trust is a moral pre-requisite for justice, harmony and
peace.

Mary is eminently honored in both the Qur’an and the
Christian Bible as the Virgin Mother of Jesus, whom we Christians call Our
Peace.” To the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Peace, we commend all our
striving for a just and lasting peace.

On the Occasion of the CBCP Plenary Assembly

/Pius XII Center, Manila
11 July 2015

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