“More Leaders must come up with a consensus to be able to submit a harmonized draft BM Law”: Cardinal Quevedo, HDS Sema

Moro leaders “must come up with a consensus” so that what is submitted to Congress in July is a “single, harmonized” draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that incorporates the gains of the four peace agreements government signed with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the last four decades, Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI and House Deputy Speaker Bai Sandra Sema said, Mindanews reported on May 14.

Like Rep Sema, Cardinal Quevedo is a staunch supporter of the GPH-MILF Peace Process who pushed hard for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that failed to pass in the 16th Congress.

Quevedo, Archbishop of Cotabato and Mindanao’s lone Cardinal in his 15-Point “Credo on Peace in Bangsamoro Land cited that,  “There a need for the major peace stakeholders, Moro rebel leaders, ARMM Officials, sultanates and Civil Society Organizations to “come up with a consensus agreement that is expressed through a single, harmonized BBL draft to be submitted to Congress.”

 “I believe that Congress is not the appropriate body to harmonize various Bangsamoro peace proposals, but harmonization should be done by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC),” Quevedo said as quoted by Mindanews.

Sema, Representative of the 1st district of Maguindanao, told MindaNews in a telephone interview Saturday by Mindanews that convergence of the MNLF and MILF peace tracks should preferably be done by the BTC “because that is why the BTC was expanded in the first place.”

But if convergence cannot be done at the BTC level, Sema said it can be done at the Office of the President.

“A decision has to be made,” Sema said, adding that if the Duterte administration wants the Bangsamoro government as its legacy, it is best that the BTC-crafted draft BBL and the MNLF draft amendatory law be harmonized into one draft law for submission to Congress instead of letting Congress do the convergence, citing the experience of the first draft BBL under the Aquino administration”, Mindanews quoted Sema saying over the phone.

Sema called on leaders of the Moro revolutionary groups to sit down and “talk as brothers.”

Quevedo said he believes that a just and lasting peace “is the harmony of vision and realism: vision of authentic self-determination by the Bangsamoro; realism on the extent of territory and the doables of law” and that the draft BBL should be compliant with the peace agreements and be made a priority of the Duterte government.

Quevedo also said he hopes Congress will provide for a three-year transition period for the future Bangsamoro, “to solidify the new socio-political consciousness and structures that the BBL shall have put in place.”

“I believe that a just and lasting peace is not simply the result of signed agreements, but the result of peace in the heart – of mutual respect and openness of heart between various cultures and religions,” said the Cardinal who is also convenor of the Friends of Peace, a group accompanying the Bangsamoro peace process.

He said the elimination “or at least the substantive reduction of historic biases and prejudices is indispensable and non-negotiable” to achieve “peace in the heart.”