(Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI, Archbishop of Cotabato, is Mindanao’s lone Cardinal).
- I believe that a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is FAB-CAB* compliant is the way to a just and lasting peace.
- I believe that such a BBL must be the first priority of the Duterte government.
- I believe that to make federalism as a first priority is to ignore the urgency of Bangsamoro self-determination and further delay its realization.
- I believe that Federalism that places all federal states on the same footing, equal in political and financial autonomy, does not do justice to historic Bangsamoro aspirations for self-determination.
- I believe that the main protagonists for peace among the Bangsamoro (MILF, MNLF, Sultanates, ARMM public officials, Bangsamoro civil society) must 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).
- I believe that the aspirations and fundamental rights of Indigenous Peoples and of the Christian minority in Bangsamoro land should be explicitly articulated and elaborated in the BBL so as to make this an inclusive law.
- I believe that the BTC should ensure the inclusivity and constitutionality of the BBL without derogating from the fundamental principles of the FAB-CAB.
- I believe that a BBL that incorporates the territorial coverage drawn by the Tripoli Agreement would be a futile exercise since such law would certainly be rejected in a referendum by the Christian majority in Mindanao.
- I believe that should a BBL be approved by Congress, a three year period of transition would be necessary in order 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.
- I believe that to achieve such a peace in the heart, the elimination or at least the substantive reduction of historic biases and prejudices is indispensable and non-negotiable.
- I believe that on this most important issue of bias and prejudice, the role of dialogue and the role of of religious institutions and religious leaders, of families, of civil society and of formal and informal education beginning with child-rearing are absolutely imperative and paramount.
- Finally, I believe that a just and lasting peace is a gift of God, a gift that calls us to collaborate with God in its realization and that to pray for such a gift is a moral duty.
This is my Credo for peace. I pray that God may make it happen.
(*FAB-CAB refers to Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed by the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2012 and 2014, respectively. Cardinal Quevedo is also a convenor of Friends of Peace)