MANILA, Oct. 17, 2012— A Catholic bishop has called on Muslims and Christians in the country to get involved in the reform process aimed at ending a long-running insurgency in Mindanao.
Archbishop Antonio Ledesma said the “framework agreement” signed between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front should not only be a concern for people in Mindanao but of all the Filipinos.
“There should be awareness on the part of both Christians and Muslim communities in Metro Manila, Luzon and Visayas,” said Ledesma, archbishop of Cagayan de Oro.
Several Mindanao prelates earlier offer the six values that constitute the people’s platform for peace in Mindanao from Muslims, Christians, and indigenous peoples in the consultations of its peace initiative.
The agreement, they said, is not the end but just the start of much hard work in concretizing the meaning of “sincerity, security, sensitivity, solidarity, spirituality and sustainability” in the nation’s troubled south.
“It is not only addressed to the government and the MILF and communities in Mindanao for all the Filipinos. We should really strive for these six core values,” he said.
Aware of the “many reservations” about the agreement, he said that the statement of Mindanao bishops “would be something that people can build on.”
Ledesma is the former head of the Church’s Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue and an active member of the Bishops-Ulama Forum.
Last Monday, chief peace negotiators of the government and the MILF formally approved the framework agreement in Malacañang, which lays down groundwork for the final and enduring peace in Mindanao.
The agreement was signed in the presence of President Benigno Aquino III, MILF chairman Al Haj Murad and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
The government and MILF have agreed to create a new political entity called Bangsamoro to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
He said establishing the Bangsamoro political entity will go through the full process of legislation in Congress and will be subject to ratification through a plebiscite.
“One key provision of this framework agreement will be expanded to include areas that were already voted to be included in ARMM in 2001,” said Ledesma, who also attended the signing ceremony.
According to him, many issues and concerns would be part of the groundwork to be done by the “transition commission” to work out the details of the new political identity.
“This transition commission might take 2 to 3 years to work out the details but at the same time there is already that assurance that there should be no more resorting to armed conflict and there will be mutual agreement on the key principles that have already been agreed upon,” he added.
The archbishop reiterated his hope that the framework agreement will finally led to the achievement of the long-elusive peace in Mindanao.
“In general, all these various groups and sectors (in Mindanao) are expressing now their optimism that maybe development can take place in Mindanao once this framework agreement is taking shape,” he said. (RL/CBCPNews)