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Cotabato Archbishop asks congress to attune BBL with constitution

ALEX LOPEZ
Cotabato City
March 25, 2015

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando M. Cardinal Quevedo, OMI recently issued a statement calling for congress to refine and attune the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to the Philippine Constitution.

“I perceive the BBL as articulating three major principles: the preservation of national sovereignty, the safeguarding of national territorial integrity, and the realization of Bangsamoro self-determination within a limited territory,” Cardinal Quevedo said.

The cardinal also belied the wrong information and interpretation that the BBL is pushing for the dismemberment of the country and would claim all the portions of Mindanao and Palawan.

He also clarified that the proposed law “does not advocate the complete independence of any of the entities of the proposed Bangsamoro government” such as the police, auditing, accounting and the civil courts.

Aside from deeply studying the proposed Bangsamoro, Cardinal Quevedo said that his notions on the BBL are anchored on his long years of service, as a religious leader, in Mindanao particularly in the province of Maguindanao and his comprehensions to the on-going peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“As a Catholic religious leader in Maguindanao, I have closely followed the peace negotiations through the years, the drafting of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, and the drafting of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. I have thoroughly studied the BBL,” he pointed out.

The cardinal proposed to congress to look deeply on the BBL especially on the following considerations:

1. Let legal and constitutional experts have a consensus on what is clearly illegal or unconstitutional in the BBL. Let their wise words guide the rewording of provisions.

2. Each provision of the BBL has been meticulously discussed by the peace panels through several years at first with mistrust and hostility and then finally in dialogue and trust. They know the whys and the wherefores of each provision. It would be to the interest of the common good for them to explain the meaning and the rationale of provisions that are questioned and objected to.

3. Let not the BBL be so emasculated that the centuries-old aspiration of the Bangsamoro for self-determination be made again a meaningless word.

Such considerations, he said, are vital to bring genuine peace and development to Mindanao: “Yet both peace panels have been demonized. Judgments have been made about the BBL that the BBL itself does not advocate. These judgments have misinformed the public about the nature of the BBL and raised public opinion against a document that is the most significant hope so far of a just and lasting peace in Southern Mindanao.”

He also prayed for the widows and the orphaned children of the Mamasapano incident by describing the same as “horrible human tragedy that could have been avoided.”

“I pray for all the fallen, the families, the widows and children they left behind. I pray that such terrible human tragedy will not happen again.”

Cardinal Quevedo ended his statement by saying that “a refined BBL is about doing the truth and justice, walking in kindness and love, mercy and compassion. This is the way of the heart, the way to a just and lasting peace.”

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