Abp Quevedo to GPH, MILF: “forge ahead with determination”

KUALA LUMPUR (MindaNews/06 October) –  Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo has sent the Philippine government (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels a five-paragraph note  to “forge ahead with determination, patience, goodwill, sincerity and transparency” in their efforts to complete their framework agreement soon.

The two panels are ending their five-day negotiations  today (October 6). As of 10:15 a.m., the panels were still deliberating in the State Room of the Palace of the Golden Horses.

“As a Cotabateño and a religious leader, I pray for you and your efforts to establish a just and lasting peace in our region. The ten consensus points that you had previously reached were, indeed, a new landmark in the long and tortuous road to peace. They facilitated your journey,” Quevdo said in his letter dated October 5.

“Now you are on the verge of breaking through towards a ‘mother agreement,’ I urgently encourage you for the sake of the Bangsamoro and for all the other people of Mindanao to forge ahead with determination, patience, goodwill, sincerity and transparency,” Quevedo said.

Among the Catholic bishops and archbishops in the Philippines, Quevedo is the most exposed to the Bangsamoro peace process and has written extensively about it.

He served as president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines for two terms, within which two major wars between the GPH and MILF happened – the Estrada administration’s “all-out war” in 2000 and the Arroyo administration’s 2003 Buliok war.

On July 8, 2003, within the same year the Buliok war was waged by the Arroyo administration,  Quevedo delivered a paper at the 27th General Assembly of the Bishops’ Businessmen’s Conference in Taguig, Metro Manila, titled “Injustice: the Root of Conflict in Mindanao.”

This is a paper heavily quoted by government, non-governmental organizations and international groups.

In it, Quevedo stated his “central conviction — that the root cause of insurgency in the South is injustice. This injustice has several sub-roots that are the major factors at the heart of the contemporary Moro movement for freedom. I refer to the movement’s
historical, cultural, social, economic, political, and religious dimensions. “

He listed three main injustices: injustice to the Moro identity, injustice to Moro political sovereignty, and injustice to Moro integral development.

On Injustice to the Moro identity, Quevedo noted that in the assertions of the Moro for their Bangsa (bangsa means ‘nation’),  “even without pressing the argument of nationhood, there was by the end of the 16th century among the Islamic communities a developed sense of religious and cultural unity and identity to which one might give at least seminally the name Bangsamoro. Such sense of ‘nation’ certainly matured when from the very beginning and for more than 300 years they resisted waves of military campaigns by Spanish military forces and their Christian Indio subordinates and later by American troops.”

“The various campaigns, military and otherwise, by Spanish, American, and Filipino governments to subjugate, assimilate and integrate the Bangsamoro into the mainstream body politic, apparently without regard to their historical and cultural make-up, is an injustice to the Bangsamoros’ religious, cultural and political identity,” the archbishop said.

On Injustice to Moro Political Sovereignty, Quevedo said that for the Bangsamoro which had Sultanates in Sulu and Maguindanao long before the Spaniards came to colonize what is now the Philippines, “the gradual loss of their sovereignty to the
American government and later to the Philippine government was a fundamental injustice, even though some of their leaders who served in government might have acquiesced.”

On the injustice to Moro Integral Development, Quevedo explained that with the loss of political sovereignty came the loss of great chunks of Moro ancestral lands,  much of which “resulted from a long series of legal enactments by the Philippine Commission, the Commonwealth government, and the post-independence government” or what has been referred to by some writers as “legalized land grabbing.”

“The loss of land was compounded by government neglect of the Moro right to integral development during the Commonwealth and post-independence governments. In all dimensions of human development, political, economic, educational, and cultural, the Moro population continues to lag far behind its Christian Filipino counterparts,” he said, adding this is “truly a tragic plight.”

But he also pointed out that while the central government in Manila can be justly faulted for this underdevelopment, “one cannot escape the impression that through the years many Moro leaders who served in the government have also failed their own people.”

Given these injustices, Quevedo asked, “where do we go from here? Will the fighting ever stop? Will the evacuees ever return home? Will integral development of the Bangsamoro ever seriously start?”

“The root answer to those questions is simple,” he said. “Justice to the Moro identity and sovereignty must be seriously respected. But this task is far from simple. Prejudices and biases have to be overcome. Muslim and Christian religious leaders have a major role in this. Both the Koran and the Bible teach respect, understanding, reconciliation, and love.”

Five years later, in the aftermath of the aborted formal signing of the then already initialed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) on August 5, 2008, Quevedo wrote a five-part series explaining what the MOA-AD is and is not all about.

He wrote: “for both peoples (Moro and non-Moro),  the key to the acceptability of the MOA-AD consists, I believe, in the following: consultation and dialogue, information and education, and building a constituency supportive of the general goals and specific objectives as well as the processes and contents of the peace negotiations. The Temporary Restraining Order issued by the Supreme Court is an occasion for all of us to reflect on this key to acceptability and work on it. Precipitous haste is not a wise response to urgency nor the way to acceptability.”

Quevedo also noted that the journey to peace in Mindanao is “inarguably long and tedious, with many stops and detours” and that “it is almost impossible to accelerate it. Milestones have been set along the way, one of which was the 1996 peace agreement (with the Moro National Liberation Front – ed). These milestones are marks of progress. One would think then that along the arduous and difficult journey, certain stops should have been made to ask for directions, consult people, set goals and then obtain consensus points at the roadside negotiation table.”

He concluded the series by saying that “should either party fail to get such an approval, the peaceful alternative would be for the peace panels to return to the negotiating table and resolve the problematic issues.”

“It is for this reason that the following, I believe, are imperative:  prior as well as ongoing consultation and dialogue with various constituencies on the issues of the peace negotiations, information for and education of the constituencies on the historical, cultural, legal, political, territorial, economic, and social dimensions of the peace talks, and the building of support constituencies,” he said.

On April 2 this year, when news reports talked about a possible breakdown in the GPH-MILF talks, Quevedo wrote a a seven-point “unsolicited advice” for the panels to consider, part of which said that the peace process can succeed “because the paramount concerns of both parties – territorial integrity and national sovereignty for the government and right to self-determination (RSD) for the MILF — are politically acceptable and the other issues are negotiable.”

Quevedo expressed optimism that “lasting peace can be achieved without sacrificing either RSD or national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Of Quevedo’s seven-points, one was addressed directly to GPH, two to the MILF,  three to both panels and one to the MILF and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

In his letter to the GPH and MILF dated October 5, Quevedo said peace is “the will of the One God who loves everyone without discrimination. God is the ultimate peacemaker. Let your faith in God be present in your conversations. May it motivate and energize you — and bring your work to fruition.”

“I ask the Lord God to bless you and your work for peace. May we enjoy, very soon, the peace that all of us have been dreaming of,” he said.   (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

 

URL: http://www.mindanews.com/peace-process/2012/10/07/abp-quevedo-to-gph-milf-forge-ahead-with-determination/


Instagram #OurMindanao

Related Posts