Mindanao Prelates ‘vigilantly hopeful’ on Bangsamoro pact

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 15 Oct) – Although they view the inking of the Framework Agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Government of the Philippines (GPH) in Malacañan Palace Monday afternoon with “vigilant optimism,” the Catholic Bishops in Mindanao believe that “continuing consultations with all stakeholders are necessary to bring the peace process forward.”

In an emailed statement, the Catholic Bishops in Mindanao cited the entire island’s experience when the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) in 2008 collapsed “due to its lack of transparency and certain provisions that were deemed unconstitutional.”

“In the aftermath of that rejection, we recall the efforts of the Bishops-Ulama Conference to sponsor a year-long series of multi-sectoral consultations to uncover the underlying factors for promoting a culture of peace in Mindanao,” the statement entitled “Towards Building a Just and Lasting Peace in Mindanao” reads in part.

Archbishops Antonion Ledesma (Cagayan de Oro), Jesus Dosado (Ozamiz), Orlando Quevedo; Bishops Guillermo Afable (Digos), Colin Bagaforo (Cotabato), Edwin de la Peña (Marawi), Jose Cabantan (Malaybalay), Elenito Galido (Iligan), Dinualdo Gutierrez (Marbel), Martin Jumoad (Isabela); and Monsignor Cris Manongas signed the emailed statement dated October 14.

“It is a good start for further detailed discussion for peace in Mindanao,” Cabantan said in a text message Monday.

The Mindanao Prelates offer the six values that constitutes the people’s platform for peace in the island from Muslim, Lumad, Catholic and Protestant participants in the consultations of its peace initiative dubbed Konsult Mindanao.

“A formal peace agreement is not the end of peace-building; rather it is just the beginning of much hard work in concretizing the meaning of Sincerity, Security, Sensitivity, Solidarity, Spirituality, and Sustainability in our various communities in Mindanao,” the same statement reads.

Meanwhile, local business leaders here hailed the Framework Agreement, calling it a breakthrough in the peace process and giving hope for the peaceful closure of the protracted conflict in the island.

“We welcome this development with optimism that finally Mindanao will be able to realize its vast development potentials and make this island truly a haven for flourishing businesses,” Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Industries (COCI) president Jerome Soldevilla said in a phone interview.

In a phone interview, local industrialist Elmer Francisco said that “every step towards peace is always good not only for business but for our country as a whole.”

“But that agreement must be inclusive and binding for both MILF and MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front), including all other [Moro] factions. Otherwise, we would just have a similar situation only that MILF is the one with the government and the other side would be the Maoist rebels,” he said.

“I still believe that a big step is necessary in order to achieve a revolutionary development in our country which is to change our current centralized form of government into a federal system through charter change,” added Francisco. (Cong B. Corrales / MindaNews)