PASTORAL STATEMENT: 3 hopes for the New Year

I have three hopes for the New Year. The first hope is this: that all the families in the Archdiocese of Cotabato may witness in 2007 the coming of definitive peace in our region. There are still many obstacles to the signing of a long-desired peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. But with mutual sacrifices and the prevailing good intentions of both parties including the efforts and encouragement of all other stakeholders in Mindanao, we pray that a peace agreement will be a gift from the Lord to the people of Mindanao in 2007.

My second hope for the New Year is this: that all major political divisions and conflicts at the national level will end in 2007. These conflicts have been a major cause of a lack of rapid progress and development in our country. We know that the economy has grown but the benefits are still to reach the ordinary people. Unity and stability in 2007 would make it more possible for economic benefits to reach the grassroots.

My final hope is this: that political governance in 2007 from top to bottom will be significantly less burdened with graft and corruption. In this way the delivery of social and economic services to the people would substantially improve. The quality of life among our average citizens and especially the poor would also be greatly uplifted.

May I urge you to pray with me for these hopes to come true. Once again a blessed and prosperous New Year for you and your families!