Archbishop Gabriele Caccia (R), Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, listens intently as Mindanao’s lone Cardinal, Orlando B. Quevedo. OMI MindaNews photo

BOL is “win-win proposition for peace in Mindanao-Bishop-Ulama Conference

Cotabato City— MindaNews, Mindanao’s leading media organization reported on December 3 that, the Bishop-Ulama Conference considers the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is a “win-win proposition” for peace in Mindanao and the entire country as it addresses the historical injustices as well as the aspirations of the Moro people for an autonomous region and at the same time affirms the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines.

The statement was issued during the BUC’s 45th General Assembly at the Ateneo De Davao University, Davao City with the theme “Bangsamoro Organic Law: Lights and Shadows.

At the culmination of the activity on December 4, the BUC described RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as the “result of an extended dialogue through earlier agreements and peace negotiations.”

Mindanao’s lone Cardinal, Orlando Quevedo, representing Catholics; Dr. Hamid Barra, representing Muslims; and Reverend Johnny Labasan, representing Protestants were the lead discussants on the conversation on the Bangsamoro law’s “lights and shadows” at the San Pedro Calungsod and San Vitores Center of the Ateneo de Davao University here, while the Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, delivered a special message, MindaNews said in its report.

As quoted by MindaNews, Quevedo explained that RA 11054 is a “win-win proposition” as it addresses historical injustices committed against the Moro people and recognizes their historic aspiration for self-determination in their territory. On the other hand, he said, the government also wins as the law recognizes the territorial integrity of the country and its sovereignty.

Dr. Hamid Barra for his part noted how Muslims had been living in fear and resentment for decades as government policies led to their marginalization and minoritization, that among these fears were being alienated from their religion, displaced from their ancestral homes, having no future in this country, losing cherished values, customs and practices.

The Bangsamoro law, he said, recognizes their distinct identity as Bangsamoro, as well as their territory and form of government, within the Philippines.

“To us, identity is very important,” Barra said, adding that where in the past they consider ‘gobierno a sarwang’ (alien government) the governance systems imposed on them, “with this (Bangsamoro law), we are now part of government, we have identity but still part of the Philippines.”

Reverend Johnny Labasan admitted that initially, it was “not easy for us” to decide on the Bangsamoro law because their constituents expressed so many concerns.  But these concerns were included in the 17-point Christian Settlers Peace and Development Agenda “for a meaningful participation of the Christian minority” to the Bangsamoro “as well as to affirm and strengthen positive factors and processes that are already in place.”

The Papal Nuncio expressed hope that the Bangsamoro law would bring “lasting peace.”

“I wish to express my solidarity with you, Bishops and Ulama in Mindanao who are very much immersed in the reality of the people in this region, especially those who will be directly affected by this Organic Law,” Caccia said as quoted by MindaNews.

He expressed hope that the Bangsamoro law “will truly ensure lasting peace in Mindanao and in the whole country, so as not to repeat the painful events experienced in Marawi, the tragic effects of which continue to affect the poorest in the province.”

The Papal Nuncio cited the “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions” proclaimed by Pope Paul VI in 1965 and how this document has influenced much of the work on inter-religious dialogue.”

He summed this up into three pillars which the BUC included in their statement: “we all belong to one human family; we are all gifted with a sense of spirituality; we all share responsibility for the common good.”  (Source: MindaNews)